Fax D.A. Zappala; Drop the charges against Ford

Telephone: 412-350-4400 or 4404. Facsimile:  (412) 350-3311

Here is the story. These facts are not much in dispute.

A kid was stopped by police as he was driving. Police suspected the guy was somebody else of a similar name and description — an alleged bad actor. Despite presenting three forms of identification, and after extended officer huddling and teleconferencing, he remained under suspicion.  At length, and contrary to police policy, an officer entered the young man’s vehicle. A confusing scuffle ensued, the car moved forward, the kid (Leon, his name is Leon Ford) was shot in the spine, and is now paralyzed. No contraband or firearms were found in the vehicle, on his person or in his system.

Despite the incidence of mistaken identity, police charged Ford with two counts of assault against them and some lesser charges. Eventually Ford was found not guilty of major charges, but the jury was irreconcilably divided on the lesser charges.

See also this account.

Our District Attorney gets to decide whether or not Mr. Ford will be tried again on remaining charges before a new jury – or recuperate more peaceably from his injury, trial and traumas.

Rallies were held this past weekend in Pittsburgh to discuss resolutions to problems of police-community relationships, racial profiling, police brutality and white supremacy. Here is one thing which had surfaced that was asked of everyone:


This blogger does not presume to know the law, and does not presume to know the facts.

Facts regarding the tense scuffle in close quarters resulting in gunfire may not necessarily compel prosecution. Prosecutors must prioritize taxpayer resources wisely and efficiently in these times of tight budgets.  And we elect our District Attorneys; we inherited a system capable of inviting popular local sentiments of justice and mercy into these decisions.

Legal raptors warn us quickly…

If the DA decides not to pursue the charges, it’s a win for the defense,” Downtown lawyer Steven Townsend said. “The city might as well open its checkbook. (Trib, Adam Brandolph)

The above stingy concern may be ameliorated by an explicit communication by the District Attorney that he was not moved in this decision by considerations regarding conclusively of evidence, but rather mercy, justice, efficiency in crime-fighting prosecution, and community sentiment.

The remainder might be written off with a hearty, “So what? What happened to that kid was brutal. If a case can be made against anybody responsible, he deserves to be made as whole as is reasonable.”

And wherefore it has been recommended by communities standing close in solidarity with Leon Ford, therefore be it resolved:  Today I am telephoning D.A. Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. to recommend that the outstanding charges against Ford be dropped. Are you? You ought to think about it.

The Comet suggests that good citizens might also want to send Zappala a fax. That documentary solidity can be a lot more sticky – and it provides greater room for creativity. Who doesn’t like a good infographic, or a cartoon?

It’s a shame you can’t fax a video.


Telephone: 412-350-4400 or 4404. Facsimile:  (412) 350-3311 Web portal: D.A. Zappala’s office.

15 thoughts on “Fax D.A. Zappala; Drop the charges against Ford

  1. Morgan

    It would be disasterously counterproductive for city residents to urge the county d.a. to re-file charges. Any county resident who benefits from city services would also be disadvantaged by such non-sensical advice. Regardless of your opinion on the underlying case, the facts remain pretty clear.
    A lack of criminal charges will be presented at the federal case. The reason for no charges won’t neccisarily be presented in federal court.
    I would think that a mayor who is concerned with the financial future of the city would push for a fellow elected official to take said citys’ financial interest into consideration.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Do you mean counterproductive to urge the county d.a. “not” to re-file charges, Morgan? That’s how your comment makes the most sense. EDIT: I mean, grammatically.

      So if I understand you correctly: what about the impact on Leon?

      1. Morgan

        Mr. Ford made his decisions, and now must live with them. I stand by my fiscally responsible reply. If you wish to contradict my very financially sound response, that decision is yours.

      2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        The financial incentive for city and county dwellers to rally their governments against this resident prior to establishing his guilt or innocence (actually, after establishing his innocence of major allegations) is extremely problematic. That he is a person of color, whose guilt is frequently assumed and whose well-being is easier for our majority to “write off” as the cost of doing business, is even worse.

        We must continue persecuting him because by getting shot and living to tell the tale, he’s a threat to our pothole money?

      3. MH

        Leaving aside morality, it’s still inane as far as I can understand it. Re-filing and not getting a conviction (or getting an outright acquittal) would involve quite a bit of extra expense for local tax payers and probably make any civil judgement (which I assume is what Morgan means by “federal court”) more costly to the city. Unless you think the probability of that is very small (and I don’t see why you should given that the only thing the jury agreed on is that he was innocent of the most serious charges), you’re just raising the bet on a bad hand.

  2. Morgan

    Bram, I base my belief in his guilt not on the color of his skin, but on my knowledge of the law and the basic functions of making a car go from park to drive. Giving someone a pass on misdemeanor charges because a you feel bad for them is a poor decision.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      I base my belief not on the color of his skin…” I could never, ever say something like that about myself with any confidence.

      I feel bad for him, AND I feel frightened for what an extended criminal trial will do to police-community relations surrounding me, AND I share MH’s concern about further wasting state resources and time. It’s throwing good money & blood after bad.

  3. bramr101

    Anonymous comments broadcasting unsubstantiated personal attacks such as those recently originating from IP addresses and, have always been and will always be deleted. Peddle it elsewhere, I am not your slime management service.

    1. Anonymous

      There was not a single person mention, so how can it be a personal attack? Merely a suggestion that Zappala should focus efforts elsewhere. Maybe you will remember your own comments the next time you go an make unsubstantiated attacks on virtually every Pittsburgher you disagree with.

      1. bramr101

        First, it’s awfully coy to claim it wasn’t a “personal attack” only because the subject went unnamed in this particular instance.

        Second, if you can cite an instance when I’ve done so, I’ll absolutely apologize. But remember that expressing policy disagreements however forcefully, suggesting that somebody else might do a better job in a given public office, and exploring evidence of official corruption which are matters of copious public record are not “personal attacks”.

        However, if your aim is to have the DA focus his attention elsewhere, then we are very much in accord — I also would like to see his office not spend further time on this case. And perhaps this is a good opportunity to congratulate him on a successful gambit to get some workers made whole, despite the political consternation it caused. Adroitly done.

  4. Morgan

    Less than 13 k to convict Ferrantte. Is cost really a concern in this case now? Millions to buy a building for an incompetent non- profit, a county executive who cuts checks for more than double the poverty rate. It could cost the city millions, against a man who can’t find the chiefs number using google. Instead he blocks traffic, and Americans rights in order to get media attention, claiming that he sees the officer multiple times a week? Where is the officer patrolling? Shaler? This case is nonsense.
    A man fled illegally from a traffic stop. An officer( maybe against policy) tried to prevent that illegal act. During the course of his duty(lawfull, under the state crimes code) the officer feared for his life and acted with leather force. A man is now crippled. If he had followed the law, and exited the vehicle he would have been patted down( in accordance with the law). No more problems.


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