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Defense Expert: Police Violated Procedure In Traffic Stop That Left Man Paralyzed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The trial for a man of a man left paralyzed following a traffic stop in the city's East End in November of 2012 resumed Monday morning.

A defense expert on the use of force took the stand was critical of the procedures police used when they stopped Ford's car.

Michael Brasfield, former assistant police chief in Seattle, Wash. and former chief of police in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. testified that police violated procedure in a number of ways:

  • They did not activate sirens and lights immediately.
  • They did not immediately notify dispatch why they stopped Ford.
  • The stop lasted nearly 17 minutes and shouldn't have taken that long.
  • Ford should have been ordered to turn off his ignition early on.
  • The license and registration materials Ford provided, even as officers were confused about whether he was in fact Lamont Ford, should have been enough to identify him.
  • If they were truly in fear that he had a gun, the word "gun" should have been yelled and officers should have drawn their weapons ordering him out of the car.
  • The officer who opened the car door and jumped into the car firing did so in direct violation of his training.

On Friday, the prosecution brought in a mannequin to show the trajectory of the bullets. They say the bullets were fired from 2-4 feet away.

The prosecution contends Ford was trying to push the police officer out of the car, when he was shot.

Leon Ford told the jury he thought he was going to die once gunfire rang out at the end of a traffic stop and he testified he was terrified when police kept insisting he might have been Lamont Ford.

His wheelchair was lifted onto the witness stand before the jury arrived and he testified the tone was set when the first officer to approach him snatched the license from him. Things went downhill once it took so long to determine who he was.

"I didn't know if they were going to beat me, shoot me or tax me," said Ford.

And he claims that the car started moving before he knew it and he had no idea an officer got into the car until he heard gunshots and smelled smoke. He still insists one of the officers told him they hoped he would die.

After Ford's testimony, the defense put on a number of character witnesses, then recalled former Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Kosko, asking if he could hear expletives Ford attributed to him on the dash cam tape. Kosko testified he could not hear those words and didn't recall specific conversations he had with Ford.

The last witness was prosecution rebuttal witness Clifford Jobe, who testified as an expert on the use of police force and who disagreed with the conclusions of the defense expert.

Jobe testified that if officers drew their weapons at any perceived threat, "We'd be walking around with guns always drawn."

He testified that two officers who perceived that Ford may have been armed acted correctly in going to the drivers side and ordering him out of the car.

And Jobe testified that officer David Derbish, who jumped into the car as it pulled off was justified in doing so.

Testimony in the case concluded Monday.

The jury will hear closing arguments Tuesday morning.

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