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Gag order request on East Liberty man and his attorney rejected by judge

| Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, 2:17 p.m.

An East Liberty man and his attorney won't be subject to a gag order in his federal civil lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh, but they still have to deal with the city's motion to dismiss the case, a judge ruled on Monday.

Leon Ford, 21, claims police used excessive force during a Nov. 11, 2012, shooting that paralyzed him. Through his attorney, Monte Rabner, he's suing the city, police officials and three police officers.

Police charged Ford with reckless endangerment, escape and traffic offenses. He's scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 2. Frank Rabner, Monte Rabner's brother, is Ford's attorney for the state criminal case.

The city claimed the Rabners obtained and publicized a Critical Incident Review Board report of the shooting through the state criminal process that would have been subject to a confidentiality order if obtained through the federal lawsuit. The city sought a gag order to prevent further leaks.

Monte Rabner, in court documents, said his brother obtained the report after an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge ruled it was relevant to the criminal case and — contrary to the city's claims — has not divulged its contents to the media.

In a countermotion, Monte Rabner said U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly should throw out the city's motion to dismiss the lawsuit because the board's report refutes claims the city makes in its motion.

Kelly said Rabner can file a new response by Sept. 30 pointing out those discrepancies, and the city will be able to make a counterargument by Oct. 8 before she rules on the city's request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Contact him at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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