On November 11, 2012, our lives were forever changed upon receiving the most devastating news parents can receive, news that an officer with Pittsburgh Bureau of Police shot my son during a routine traffic stop. Shocked and confused over the news, we rushed over to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital only to be denied an opportunity to see our son; this ban lasted for over seven days as we waited in a state of shock and confusion as police worked behind the scenes to come up with a narrative of what they would later say happened.
Police dash-cam video of the incident would later reveal that our 19-year-old teenager was detained by three police officers on a dark road for almost twenty-five minutes during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop. My son properly provided officers with his driver licenses, vehicle registration and proof of insurance while they harassed him over the legitimacy of his identity. Even more painful to watch is the heartbreaking sounds of our youngest child being shot five times by a police officer who decided to jump inside my son’s vehicle. While we are not sure how the car shifted into gear once the officer jumped inside the vehicle, we are sure that our son was in mortal fear for his life as police harassed, threatened and hurled racial slurs towards him.
The police officers are now trying to justify their actions by claiming that they saw a barrel of a gun in my son’s waistband, but we know our son and it was no surprise that a search following the shooting revealed no gun and no contraband of any kind. Leon is a good kid, who is very intelligent, hardworking and athletic. Simply put, the Pittsburg Police officers mischaracterized our son and profiled the wrong kid.
And even though Pittsburgh police shot my son five times and left him paralyzed, to add insult to injury, they have charged him with bogus criminal charges which could put him in prison for over 20 years. These charges are based on the officer’s allegations that my son dragged them down the street with his car.
Pittsburgh Police officers tried to lie about my son and the way things happened the night they shot him. In an attempt to cover up the truth, the officer lied by claiming a fellow officer was standing in front of Leon’s car when it moved. They hoped that he would die that night, but thank God, he lived and can now tell the truth. But don't just take our son’s word for it. The video backs up everything that he said happened.
We are calling for Allegheny County District Attorney, Stephen A. Zappala Jr., to drop these bogus charges and asking that the officers who took our sons ability to ever walk again, be held accountable. As a mother and a father, it breaks our heart to see my son in his current condition but we must be strong for him because that’s what parents do.
Latonya Green and Leon Ford Sr.
The parents of Leon Ford Jr.