From [HERE] Did police see a bulge in Leon Ford's pants that they thought was a gun or did they make up the story to justify shooting and paralyzing an unarmed man?
That was the central question Tuesday in closing arguments to a federal jury in Mr. Ford's civil case against two Pittsburgh police detectives, David Derbish and Andrew Miller.
Detective Derbish shot Mr. Ford five times in the chest after a traffic stop in November 2012 in Highland Park.
He jumped into Mr. Ford's car just as it sped away. He said Mr. Ford put his hand on his chest as if to shove him out of the car, and he had to shoot because he feared for his life.
"He said, 'I thought I was going to die,'" Paul Krepps, a lawyer representing the officers, told the jury.
He said Detective Derbish, standing near the passenger side door, said he saw a bulge in Mr. Ford's pants. He said he thought it might be a gun. He motioned to Detective Miller, who was on the driver's side of the car, of his suspicions.
As a dashcam video shows, Detective Miller grabs Mr. Ford to pull him out of the car, Detective Derbish jumps in and seconds later five shots are heard as the vehicle speeds down the street and crashes.
It turned out Mr. Ford didn't have a gun, but Mr. Krepps said Detective Derbish and Detective Miller thought he did.
"Are they making this up now?" Mr. Krepps asked. "Or did they have a valid concern?"
Mr. Ford's lawyer, Fred Rabner, said they were making it up. He said they had mixed up Leon Ford with a gang member with a similar name and face and proceeded on that assumption until the shooting occurred.
"There was never a bulge," he said. "That's a story that was made up after the fact."
The defendants, both patrol officers at the time of the shooting and now undercover detectives, have been on trial for two weeks before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly.
Mr. Ford sued them in 2013.
The judge dismissed some of his claims. But she allowed the case to proceed on a claim of excessive force against Detective Derbish and assault and battery against Detective Miller.
The incident happened the night of Nov. 11, 2012.
Officer Michael Kosko and his partner, Detective Miller, pulled over Mr. Ford's Infiniti after they said they saw it speeding and running stop signs.
The officers thought that Mr. Ford might be Lamont Ford, a violent member of the Kelly Street gang in Homewood.
Detective Miller called his friend Detective Derbish, who had dealt with Lamont Ford before, to the scene to help them identify the driver.
Mr. Ford testified that the officers seemed stuck on the idea that he was Lamont, who was no relation and had no connection to him, even though he had produced a license, registration and insurance papers identifying him as Leon.
As the tension escalated, Kosko and Detective Miller demanded that Mr. Ford get out of his car. He refused because he said he was scared. Detective Miller then grabbed him. He said Mr. Ford reached for the gearshift to anchor himself to keep from being pulled from the car.
It was in that instant that Detective Derbish jumped into the car, leading to the shooting seconds later.