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Judge delays ruling on charges against Shaler man shot by police

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 4:00 p.m.

Charges against a Shaler man who was shot by a Pittsburgh police officer during a traffic stop and paralyzed should be dismissed, his attorney argued on Wednesday before a Common Pleas judge.

Police officers created a “zone of danger” when they pulled over Leon D. Ford, 20, for running a stop sign on Nov. 11 in Highland Park, said his defense attorney, Fred Rabner.

Officers failed to follow proper protocol by trying to remove him from the car and when one of them jumped into the moving vehicle, he said.

“They created a dangerous situation,” Rabner said.

The officers charged Ford with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and other crimes in connection with the confrontation.

Police said Officer David Derbish jumped into the car and began shooting when Ford hit him several times and started driving away.

Allegheny County Judge Donald E. Machen said he won't decide for at least two months whether to dismiss the charges or allow them to proceed to court.

Ford has filed a federal lawsuit against Derbish and the other officers involved in the incident, Michael Kosko and Andrew Miller. The suit accuses the officers of excessive use of force, which the city Law Department and the Fraternal Order of Police union say is without merit.

Pittsburgh police Chief Regina McDonald declined to comment.

Assistant District Attorney Rob Schupansky said Rabner's arguments failed to address the charges against his client.

“These tragic circumstances were clearly brought about because of his actions,” Schupansky said.

Dozens of community activists and family members stood in the hallway outside the courtroom wearing T-shirts that read #Justice4Leon. The shirts were not permitted in the courtroom.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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