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Gammage Title

November 1996 

Tuesday November 19, 1996 
  • Urban League requests that President Clinton to hold a national summit on police conduct.
  • Read more about it here. 
  • Judge David R. Cashman told jurors allegedly "to order anything you want. The jurors indeed listened to the judge's orders and sure made the cost of the mistrial more than the taxpayer cares to face.
  • Read more about it here. 

Monday November 18, 1996 

  • Jonny Gammage's mother Narves asks President Clinton to start an investigation into her sons death.
  • Check out Ann Devlin Online.

Sunday November 17, 1996 

  • A memorial was held for Jonny Gammage at the First Baptist Church in Penn Hills.
  • The Pittsburgh area lays silent after a successful and peaceful march yesterday sponsored by the NAACP and the CCPJ which brought together nearly 2,000 citizens from all walks of life who all believe injustice has occurred in the Gammage related cases.

Saturday November 16, 1996 

Friday November 15, 1996 

  • Protests continue outside the Allegheny County Courthouse.
  • We are still shocked at the jury's decision in the Vojtas case.
  • Read excerpts from the Pittsburgh Press following the not guilty verdict.

Thursday November 14, 1996 

  • There will be no peace!
  • Anticipate your cloudy visions of peace, ask us to unite. Infiltrate our peaceful protests with your detectives and their cameras. File us in your cabinets, monitor us, WE KNOW THAT YOU ALREADY ARE.

    We do not condone any "illegal" actions but do indicate that the peace process has consistantly failed the black community in the Pittsburgh area.

  • Yesterday afternoon and well into last night peaceful protests took place in downtown Pittsburgh.

    Protestors marched from the Allegheny County Courthouse to the federal building, where protestors hoped that their voices would be heard and federal authorities will look more into the Gammage incident.

Wednesday November 13, 1996 

  • Protest to take place this evening outside the Allegeheny Courthouse to protest the decision in the Vojtas case.
  • Jurors find Officer John Vojtas innocent of manslaughter charge.

Monday November 11, 1996 

  • Closing arguments in the Vojtas trial. Assistant District Krastek asks the jury 'who polices the bad police' and he responds 'you do ladies and gentlemen of the jury.'

Sunday November 10, 1996 

  • The rally held yesterday outside the Allegheny County Courthouse was a success. The turnout of about 75 people was enthusiastic as they fought the fury of mother earth. Click here for a review of the event.
  • The Ploughman's Lunch played their new track called "The Murder of Jonny Gammage". Proceeds from album sales are going to groups working around this case.
  • Boycott Pittsburgh music chain National Record Mart ("NRM"). Click here to find out why.

Saturday November 9, 1996 

Friday November 8, 1996 

  • The defense put Kathleen Difendale of South Park on the stand. She testified that tow truck driver Belachek once towed her car and told her that he was being harassed and questioned by police even though he had not seen anything.
  • Robert Willis a police defense training expert from Wisconsin testified on behalf of Vojtas. Willis showed James Bond type weapons in justifying Vojtas' actions, showing pens that are guns and books that can conceal pepper spray. 

    Willis pointed to factors of wires hanging from the dashboard of Gammage's Jaguar, his braking actions which could have been understood to be the actions of a drunk driver and Gammage's failure to exit the vehicle empty handed.
  • Local band The Ploughman's Lunch formally announces the availability of a new song entitled "The Murder of Jonny Gammage". Copies should be available in records stores on Monday.

    We will be putting a sample of the track online hopefully Saturday.

Thursday November 7, 1996 

  • Protest Rally this Saturday, November 9th at 12 noon at the Allegheny Courthouse located on Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Go here for more information on the event. 
  • Former Brentwood Councilman and current County Commissioner Bob Cranmer attends the hearing and speaks out stating that he posed the same questions as John Peters, a defense expert witness.
  • John Peters of Defensive Tactics Institute, a law enforcement training firm, located in Millersville, Pennsylvania testifies that Vojtas took several gross and negligent actions during the stop of Gammage.
  • Shoppers asked to boycottt the holiday shopping season in objection to the injustices perpetrated by the police of Allegeheny County. No more deaths, no more coverups.
  • City of Pittsburgh Homicide Detective James Diskin read a report he typed up following the death of Jonny Gammage. The report indicated that Vojtas changed his story at the coroner's inquest.
       The report indicates that Vojtas knew Gammage was holding a cellular phone when he stepped from his vehicle conflicting Vojtas' earlier testimony in which Vojtas tried to justify the intial attack of Gammage because officers thought the phone was a weapon.

Wednesday November 6, 1996 

  • At 8pm jurors were taken to the scene of the crime, Route 51 in Pittsburgh's Overbrook section to give them a 3-dimensional look" at the flat map that they have had to look at.
  • In court testimony wrote in a police report by Vojtas indicate that Gammage had 'super power'. Also revealed was that Vojtas had drawn his gun, something that Officer Henderson failed to mention in his testimony, where he said he would have personally shot Gammage had Vojtas not been standing in in his line of fire.
  • In court testimony points to lies made by Vojtas. Vojtas indicated that after Gammage allegedly bit his thumb he immediately released Gammage and sought medical attention. Blood found on Gammages back and neck positively matched Vojtas' own blood.

Tuesday November 5, 1996 - Election Day 

  • Tow truck driver Frank Belachek, the only witness to date testified that he saw an officer tackle Gamamge, an officer on top of Gammage, an officer punch Gammage, another officer kicking Gammage, an officer beat Gammage with a billyclub all while Gammage struggled.
  • Proceedings continue for Officer John Vojtas.
  • A doctor testified that Gammage was dead when he arrived on the scene.
  • An attorney who drove past the scene testified that he saw Gammage on the ground with his hands behind his back and the police standing around him.
  • Jurors got to hear Brentwood police tapes of the intial traffic stop. Listen to it here.

Monday November 4 1996 

  • Vojtas' lawyer Al Lindsay offers yet another explanation of the strange phneomenon alleged to have caused Jonny Gammage's death.
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General Thomas Corbett issues a televised release to the media stating that 'it is not in the power of the Attorney General's Office to take over the Gammage case.
    Click to hear part of his reply.
  • Trial set to begin for Officer John Vojtas.
  • See our background file on the jurors.
  • CCPJ plans to issue a press release and personally serve such upon the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office in Pittsburgh at 10:30 AM. The CCPJ along with seven other groups is requesting the removal of the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office due to incompetence, professional misconduct, and lack of prosecution.
    You can read their letter here.
    October 1996  
Wednesday October 30, 1996 
  • Jury selection continues in Lakawanna county for Officer John Vojtas.

Tuesday October 29, 1996 

  • Jury selection begins in Lakawanna County County for Officer John Vojtas

Monday October 28, 1996  

  • Judge David Cashman refuses to remove himself from the case. Cites no wrongdoing on his part.
  • District Attorney Bob Colville under a gag order indicates that his office will not seek relief in the Superior Court to recuse Judge Cashman.
  • Jury selection is set to begin on Wednesday for Officer John Vojtas.

Sunday October 27, 1996 

  • NAACP convenes in Erie, Pennsylvania. The 40+ chapters in Pennsylvania agree and ask Judge Cashman to recuse himself.
  • NAACP also renews it's request that the jury be selected from Allegheny County.

Saturday October 26, 1996 

  • Citizens ask for Judge Cashman to recuse himself from case. Rally held for Jonny Gammage. Judge Cashman denies any wrongdoing and tells members of the media that he will see them on 9:30am Monday morning. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that defense attorneys were permitted to meet with excused jurors. Such meeting was sanctioned by Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman Post reports.

Friday October 25, 1996  

  • Judge Cashman asks state and federal authorities to investigate a letter sent to KDKA, a CBS affiliate station, concerning Gammage trial.

Wednesday October 23, 1996  

  • Jury selection is set to begin Monday in Lackawanna County for the trial of Officer Vojtas.