Police brutality victim-turned-activist Leon Ford Jr. was fortunate to survive after being shot five times and left paralyzed by Pittsburgh police during a traffic stop in November, 2012. He faced charges of reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, escape and aggravated assault, which were all dropped as in January 2015.
It has been a year since Ford's trial began, and he reflected on his difficult journey in an open letter he shared on his Facebook page. "This is the first time I am speaking out on my case," he told BET.com in an e-mail.
"Unlike Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Ezell Ford, Mike Brown and many other victims of police misconduct, I survived to tell my story," wrote Ford. "In many ways, I may also be telling their stories as well. That is why I am dedicated to being a difference in our communities despite what I have gone through."
Ford uses his platform to speak with youth and at community events in his local Pittsburgh. Although he spreads messages of hope and perseverance through his work, he says internally he still faces many battles from the night he was shot multiple times.
"Many nights I wake up in cold sweats reliving the night of Nov 11, 2012. It was the night where I was robbed of my youth as five shots from the glock of a Pittsburgh police officer ripped through my flesh, crippling me forever," Ford continued.
Even though he is now a free man, Ford says he feels like he is still on trial living in his hometown, following the outcome of the case. The officers who were involved in his shooting are also still working on the force.
"It is my hope that we can learn through all of this, find justice for all, and move past the obstacles of misconduct that have confined me to this wheelchair and restrain our communities from peace," said Ford.
Read Ford's full letter here.
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