Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Da Urged Not to Retry Ford Case Jury Unable to Reach Consensus on 5 Charges in Incendiary Case

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Da Urged Not to Retry Ford Case Jury Unable to Reach Consensus on 5 Charges in Incendiary Case

Article excerpt

Within hours of the partial verdict in the Leon Ford case, civil rights activists in Pittsburgh began lobbying the Allegheny County District Attorney's office to not retry the remaining five counts of the case.

Mr. Ford was found not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault, but a jury that deliberated for four days was unable to reach consensus on charges of reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and escape.

The case sparked outrage in the community, with many condemning the three officers for their actions. There was already a racial component - in that Mr. Ford is black and the three officers are white - and during the trial, the defense alleged that the officers used racial slurs at Mr. Ford while trying to get him out of his car during the Nov. 11, 2012, traffic stop.

After being pulled over in Highland Park, Mr. Ford provided three valid forms of identification. The officers were still not convinced of his identity and ordered him from his car. When Mr. Ford refused, they tried to pull him out, and one officer climbed in the front passenger seat. The car slammed into drive and quickly pulled away from the curb, with the officer inside. Within a few seconds, that officer fired five shots, leaving Mr. Ford paralyzed.

After the jury returned its verdict Monday, the prosecutor told the court that his office would review the case and decide if it would retry Mr. Ford. On Tuesday, spokesman Mike Manko said no decision has yet been made.

In the meantime, one group, the Black Political Empowerment Project, had already sent a letter to District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. urging him to dismiss the case, while others plan to circulate a petition recommending the same.

In the letter, chairman and CEO Tim Stevens wrote that Mr. Ford's paralysis alone justifies not retrying him. But further, he said, "In light of the passions that this case has engendered, particularly within the African-American community, we strongly urge you to not [retry] Leon Ford.

"Your agreeing to not [retry] will also provide an opportunity for some level of healing within our African-American communities between the community and the police. …

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