On this day in American history, October 11, 1995 — Three Brentwood, Pennsylvania, Police Officers Kill Unarmed Black Motorist During Traffic Stop

Jonny Gammage, cousin and business partner of Pittsburgh Steelers football player Ray Seals, was detained during a traffic stop while driving Mr. Seals’s Jaguar in the working-class suburb of Brentwood on the morning of October 12, 1995. According to testimony, Lt. Milton Mullholland pulled Mr. Gammage over for tapping his breaks and called Officer John Votjas for backup. The officers later claimed that Mr. Gammage, who was 5’6″ and 165 pounds, pointed an object at the officers – which turned out to be a cell phone – and struggled. Mullholland and Votjas, along with Officer Michael Albert, Sgt. Keith Henderson, and Officer Sean Patterson, ultimately pinned Mr. Gammage face-down on the pavement; he asphyxiated and died after several minutes.

On November 27, 1995, Mulholland, Votjas were charged with third degree murder, and Albert was charged with involuntary manslaughter. The charges against Mullholland and Votjas, were later reduced to involuntary manslaughter. Henderson and Patterson were not charged in the incident.

Officer Votjas was acquitted by an all-white jury and, a year later, promoted to sergeant; Judge Joseph McCloskey dismissed charges against Mulholland and Albert after two trials resulted in mistrials. In January 1996, Brentwood police chief Wayne Babish, who had called for a complete investigation into Mr. Gammage’s death, was fired by the Brentwood City Council for failing to support the charged officers.

Multiple public protests were held in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, calling for “Justice for Jonny” and federal intervention. However, in 1999 the Department of Justice declined to file civil rights charges, stating that there was not enough evidence that unreasonable force had been used.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

 

 

Advertisements

About ezwaters

Award-winning poet, playwright and writer. Author of three books of poetry, "Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present"; "Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats"; "The Black Feminine Mystique," and a novel, "Streets of Rage." All four books are available on Amazon.com.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s