Fact Sheet on the Murder of Jonny Gammage

Click here for French version of this fact sheet.

Prepared by Kate Daher.

* October 12, 1995 - Jonny E. Gammage, a 31 year old African-American male, is stopped by police while driving a Jaguar owned by his cousin, Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Seals. In the course of seven minutes, Gammage is brutally beaten and suffocated by five Pittsburgh-area police officers. Jonny Gammage committed no crime.

* October 16 - An autopsy shows that Gammage suffocated when pressure was applied to his neck and check.

* November 3 - A six-member coroner's jury recommends unanimously that criminal homicide charges be filed against the five police officers involved in his death.

* November 27 - Ignoring the jury's findings, District Attorney Bob Colville announces that he will file charges against three of the five officers only. He charges Brentwood Lt. Milton E. Mulholland and Patrolman John Vojtas with third-degree murder, official oppression and involuntary manslaughter and charges Baldwin Borough Patrolman Michael G. Albert with involuntary manslaughter. The two other officers in the case, Whitehall Sgt. Keith Henderson and Patrolman Shawn Patterson will not be charged.

* December 28 - Allegheny County Judge James R. McGregor orders the three cops to stand trial for the misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter, the lowest form of homicide. McGregor dismisses third-degree murder and official oppression charges against Mulholland and Vojtas.

* May 16 - Allegheny County Judge David R. Cashman, who is assigned to hear the case, rules that the jury will be chosen from outside Allegheny County.

* June 7 - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides jurors in the trial of Mulholland and Albert, who will be tried together, will be selected in Chester County; while jurors in the trial of Vojtas will be selected in Lackawanna County. This decision has been condemned by many civil rights and community leaders. Chester County is less than 6% Black; while Lackawanna County is less than 1% Black. Allegheny County, where the crime took place, is 11.9% Black. According to the October 6 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, ...both Chester and Lackawanna counties have had their jury pools challenged by local lawyers who contend that there aren't enough blacks being called for jury duty. None of those jury challenges has been successful.