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Paris Ford Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Charges, Case Proceeds to Trial

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Pitt Paris Ford
Pitt safety Paris Ford readies for a play against Duke on Oct. 5, 2019 in Durham, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

CLAIRTON, Pa. — The criminal case against former Pitt Panthers and Steel Valley defensive back Paris Ford will proceed after a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Ford was in court in front of magistrate Armand Martin on Tuesday and plead not guilty to four felony counts, one of which was added just before the hearing, and one misdemeanor. The case will now proceed to a formal arraignment in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Aug. 5.

The magistrate ruled that assistant district attorney Katie Simmers presented enough evidence to show that a crime was committed and that Ford was the likely perpetrator. Defense counsel Wendy Williams frequently objected to the veracity of prosecution claims and said that no evidence presented directly connected Ford to the crime.

“The evidence is all circumstantial and there is no evidence that my client committed a crime,” Williams said.

The prosecution aired video surrounding a shooting alleged to occur on Third Street in Clairton this March 15. The video shows a Black male briefly on camera through footage obtained from the rear of 805 Third Street, second before shots are fired, which can be heard off camera.

Eric Bauman of the Allegheny County Police Department said that both the residences at 803 and 805 Third Street — a duplex — were hit. Shell casings were found in the back yard of 803 Third Street and a bullet was recovered from inside 805 Third Street.

Whitehall Police responded to a BOLO for a Black Nissan Rogue reportedly seen leaving the scene. Officer Joseph Lacko initiated a traffic stop on such a vehicle on Rt. 51, beginning a brief police chase. At the end of that chase, multiple subjects, including one that was visibly armed according to Lacko, fled the scene. 

A foot chase was not able to apprehend the armed suspect, but a canvass of the area led by Allegheny County detective Lloyd Rickard uncovered video footage of a Black male, dressed similarly to the initial video, running through multiple properties before stopping in alleyway adjacent to Fairhaven United Methodist Church.

In that location, a 9mm handgun registered to Ford was recovered by Allegheny County Police. It was later found to be a match for the shell casings and bullet found at the crime scene. Additionally, a prescription bottle with Ford’s name on it was found in the vehicle. That circumstantial evidence led to a warrant being issued for Ford’s arrest in March.

Williams objected to the veracity of the time stamps video testimony entered into evidence, and questioned why the alleged victim, Brandon Christian of Third Street in Clairton, did not testify and was not subpoenaed.

Ford is charged two counts of aggravated assault, one of which is a felony in the first degree that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also faces two felony charges of discharging a fireman into an occupied structure and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Paris Ford (12) October 26, 2019 — David Hague/PSN

A four-star prospect after winning WPIAL and PIAA titles with Steel Valley in 2016, Ford redshirted his first season at Pitt and played in 29 games over the next three seasons. He was named a first-team All-ACC safety in 2019, but left the team midway through the 2020 season, following a visible disagreement with head coach Pat Narduzzi late in a blowout home loss to Notre Dame.

RELATED: Pitt Safety Paris Ford to Opt Out of Remainder of Season

After running subpar times at Pitt’s pro day in 2021, Ford went un-selected in the 2021 NFL Draft and signed with the Los Angeles Rams, and he was released after three preseason games. 

Ford spent the 2022 and 2023 seasons playing with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, but that team folded when the USFL merged with the XFL to form the UFL this spring. Ford did not get an opportunity with the new league, choosing instead to play for the Massachusetts Pirates of the Indoor Football League.

According to the team’s website, Ford has appeared in three games with the Pirates this summer, most recently when he recorded six tackles in a 52-51 home loss to the San Antonio Gunslingers on June 15.  

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Kelvin Byrd
Kelvin Byrd
27 days ago

That guy will get off and only go on to commit more crimes. He won’t learn from this.

Remember, this guy abandoned his team.

He’s a a selfish thug.

Randino
Randino
27 days ago

I’ll never forget that game against Duke where Paris was ejected for targeting. I thought for sure he was going to totally lose it. At the time, it seemed like he was real close to going overboard. What a long walk back to locker room that was. He held it together, for the most part. I’ll give him credit for that.

Last edited 27 days ago by Randino
Paul Kaufmann
Paul Kaufmann
25 days ago

I enjoyed watching him play in high school and at Pitt. 3 different high schools, the cloud behind his SAT which delayed his start at Pitt, the fight with the tightend teammate his first year at Pitt, and the way he left Pitt midseason his last year all signaled problems. I’m sorry it came to this. He had potential.

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