Officer Denies Telling Injured Suspect, ‘I Hope You Die’ After Police Confrontation
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A second police officer resumed his testimony Thursday in the trial of a man left paralyzed following a traffic stop in the city’s East End in November of 2012.
Officer Andrew Miller denies he told Leon Ford, “I hope you die,” as the defense claims.
Prosecutor: “Did you whisper anything hoping someone would die?”
Miller: “No. I spent eight years in the Army. I’ve lost soldiers. I’ve seen people on this job shot. I don’t care who you are, nobody wants to see that.”
Officer Miller, who is the partner of the officer who initiated the traffic stop, also said the bulge police thought was a gun turned out to be a cell phone and keys.
“Derbish shined a flashlight toward the driver’s leg and we agreed we saw a bulge on his right leg. I decided to have him step out of the vehicle to investigate that bulge and make sure it wasn’t a weapon,” Miller said.
The bulge turned out to be keys and a cell phone.
Officer David Derbish, who fired the shots that paralyzed Leon Ford, also testified Thursday afternoon. He took the stand to explain why he fired at Ford when Ford pulled away from the traffic stop.
And late Thursday afternoon, Ford, along with his lawyers, the prosecutor, the judge and members of the jury crossed the street to the old county jail courtyard so they could see the car Ford drove the night he was stopped, and to see Derbish inside that car.
On Wednesday, former Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Kosko, who now works in Florida, testified that he pulled Leon Ford over because he was speeding.
But a police report filed in connection with the case states Kosko also based the stop on the belief that Ford ran a stop sign at the intersection of Meadow and St. Marie Streets.
However, he admitted under cross examination by the defense that there is no stop sign at that intersection.
Kosko said he was mistaken and the stop sign in question is at Stanton and Meadow.
The traffic stop went on for at least 16 minutes as officers tried to determine whether Leon Ford was actually Lamont Ford, who police described as a gang banger with outstanding warrants.
A picture of Lamont Ford was what showed up when the name “LFord” was put into a database.
A smaller driver’s license picture of Leon Ford was in their hands after he gave it to them, along with his registration.
Ford pulled away from the traffic stop as a third officer arrived who thought the suspect looked like Lamont Ford to him.
Ford ended up paralyzed from the waist down after an officer got in the car as Ford pulled away. He fired five shots before the car lost control.
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