Timeline: Events in the Jonny Gammage case

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– 1995 –

Oct. 12: Jonny Gammage, 31, a black businessman and cousin of then-Steeler lineman Ray Seals, dies after a seven-minute fight with five white police officers during a traffic stop. An autopsy determines Gammage suffocated after pressure was applied to his neck and chest.

Nov. 3: After a three-day open inquest, a coroner's jury recommends that homicide charges be filed against Brentwood Lt. Milton Mulholland, Baldwin Borough Patrolman Michael G. Albert, Brentwood Patrolman John Vojtas and Sgt. Keith Henderson and Patrolman Shawn Patterson, both of the Whitehall force.

Nov. 27: District Attorney Bob Colville announces he will file charges against only Mullholland, Albert and Vojtas. No charges are filed against Henderson or Patterson.

– 1996 –

Oct. 15: Mulholland and Albert go on trial at the Allegheny County Courthouse. Vojtas is to be tried separately. All face a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Oct. 18: Judge David R. Cashman grants a mistrial a day after Dr. Cyril H. Wecht on the witness stand suggests that Mulholland take the stand and explain his actions.

Nov. 4: In his opening statements in Vojtas' trial, defense attorney Alexander H. Lindsay says an adrenaline rush, exhaustion or cardiac arrest could have caused Gammage's death.

Nov. 13: An all-white jury finds Vojtas not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

– 1997 –

April 22: Cashman bars the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office from retrying Mulholland and Albert on involuntary manslaughter charges in Gammage's death.

Oct. 10: The state Supreme Court unanimously reverses Cashman's ruling and clears the way for Mulholland and Albert to be retried. The justices remove Cashman as the trial judge and designate James E. Rowley of Beaver County, retired president judge of state Superior Court, to preside in the case.

Dec. 13: Rowley declares a mistrial in the Mulholland-Albert retrial after the jury deadlocks 11-1 for acquittal. The lone holdout for conviction is the only black juror, who later said he was convinced of the officers' guilt and would have held out until "doomsday."

– 1998 –

Jan. 29:Attorneys for Mulholland and Albert file motions to dismiss the charges, saying another trial would amount to unconstitutional "double jeopardy" against their clients. The motion is filed with Judge Joseph F. McCloskey, newly appointed by the state Supreme Court to preside in the case.

July 22: McCloskey dismisses the charges against Mulholland and Albert, agreeing with defense lawyers that a new trial would violate their constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

– 1999 –

Feb. 19: U.S. Justice Department said it would not file civil rights charges in the death of Gammage because it couldn't prove that the five suburban officers had used unreasonable force to subdue him.

March 22: In Syracuse, a group of clergy and community leaders held a march protesting the way the case was handled in Pennsylvania and calling for the U.S. Justice Department to reopen the investigation.

June 28: Gammage's family met face-to-face with Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee to hear firsthand why he did not plan to pursue civil rights charges against the five police officers.

Oct. 22: In another rally against police brutality, Gammage supporters said they were disappointed that federal authorities would not pursue criminal charges, but said they would focus their energies on trying to change the law to require all local police brutality cases to be handled by the federal courts.


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