PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In matter of seconds, a young man life’s was changed forever.
Leon Ford, 19, who is now confined to a wheelchair, was in court Thursday charged with escape, reckless endearment and reckless driving.
Videotape shows that police pulled Ford over after running two stops signs. He was then questioned for the better part of 20 minutes by police who believed him to be a person of interest also named Ford.
Officers on the scene called in Officer David Dervish to make an identification when things went awry.
Dervish testified that he saw “an unnatural bulge” in Ford’s sweatpants that he believed to be a gun.
He said when Ford refused to get out of the car, the other officers tried to pull him out. And then he, Dervish, entered the car.
Dervish says when Ford put the car in gear and began driving off, he yelled several times for him to stop; and when he didn’t, he began firing.
“I don’t believe he fled,” said Fred Rabner, Ford’s attorney. “He reacted to the unlawful search of the officers.”
Ford’s attorney says that after being stopped for 20 minutes, he reacted in fear for his life.
Rabner says Ford had no gun and no drugs and said the situation could have ended peacefully had police followed procedure.
“You’re not supposed to enter into the passenger compartment of a vehicle with the engine running,” said Rabner. “And I certainly know that if you believe there’s a gun involved, you’re supposed to take your weapon out and order that individual out of the vehicle, not jump in the car like this is some action thriller with Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Ford was held for trial on the criminal charges.