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The Murder of Jonny Gammage by 5 Pittsburgh PA Police Officers

Filed under News on February 28, 2011

The following excerpt is from a website that calls for legislative action for the brutal murder of an innocent man, Jonny Gammage.

The Police Murder of Jonny Gammage

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“In Syracuse, New York in the 1990s, we have had five people die in police custody under suspicious circumstances, all of them black people. But it was the police killing of a Syracuse native while driving through a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburb that galvanized a movement for federal prosecution of police brutality. We call it the Jonny Gammage Law.

Jonny Gammage Jr., a young black man, was murdered by five white police officers outside Pittsburgh on October 12, 1995. Gammage was killed during a routine traffic stop, allegedly for driving erratically but likely for “driving while black” at night in the white suburb of Brentwood. He was handcuffed and placed on the pavement. Only then did officers beat him with at least 20 blows by nightsticks, a metal flashlight, and a leather blackjack. Bruises were found all over his head. Then the officers pressed down hard on him against the pavement with their knees, causing hemorrhages on his back and preventing his breathing. His face was pushed to the pavement, flattening his nose against his face as blood and mucous filled his throat and mouth. The officers smothered him until he was killed by asphyxiation. His last words to the cops as he begged for his life were, “I’m only 31.” When the paramedics arrived to try and revive Gammage, they had to scream at the officers to get off of him.

None of the five police officers responsible were convicted of any crime in this killing. The case received national attention because Gammage’s cousin was Pittsburgh Steeler defensive tackle Ray Seals. Seals’ father and Gammage’s uncle, Tommie Seals, was a member of the Syracuse police force. Jonny Gammage had no criminal record. He was known in Syracuse as a positive and generous member of the community.

The inquest jury recommended that all five officers face murder charges. But the prosecutor charged only three of the officers with the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. The first trial against two officers ended in a mistrial when the county coroner blurted out improper testimony. The case was thrown out because, of all things, these two officers were “singled out” while two other officers were not charged at all. The second trial of these two officers ended in a hung jury when the sole African American juror refused to vote for acquittal. The District Attorney decided not to pursue a third prosecution of these two officers. The third officer charged was acquitted by an all-white jury and subsequently promoted by his Brentwood police department.”

Source :? Ǭ The Jonny Gammage Law: Federal Prosecution of Police Brutality. Rev. Larry Ellis, Syracuse Greens and Co-Chair of the Jonny Gammage Law Initiative.

For more information, contact the Jonny Gammage Law Initiative, care of the Co-Chairs: Rev. Larry Ellis, Pastor, God’s Way Church of Jesus, 126 Dearborn Place, Syracuse NY 13205, (315) 422-4290, or Donna Reese, President, Syracuse/Onondaga Co. NAACP, P.O. Box 397, Syracuse NY 13205, (315) 422-6933.

Related: The Jonny Gammage Memorial Site


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