PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The death of George Floyd is drawing comparisons to the 1995 killing of a black man in police custody in Brentwood.

Jonny Gammage was beaten and suffocated by five white police officers during a traffic stop along Route 51 on Oct. 12, 1995.

(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

He was driving the borrowed Jaguar of his cousin, former Steeler Ray Seals, when he was pulled over.

Testimony later revealed Gammage pleaded for his life as police attacked him, saying, “I’m only 31.”

An autopsy found he died from pressure applied to his neck and chest.

As the country reacts to Floyd’s death in police custody, Seals can’t help but see similarities to his cousin’s.

“It’s like déjà vu,” Seals said.

Outrage around the country over the past week was initially sparked by a video of Floyd on the ground in Minneapolis, crying out that he couldn’t breathe while now-former police officer Derek Chauvin drove his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“I’ve seen many cases over the years that have made me go crazy because I’d been through the whole deal before. But this one is so close,” Seals said.

Now, Seals watches anger and protest erupt as it did after the death of his cousin.

“To watch that guy bury his knee into that guy’s neck drove a lot of people crazy,” Sears said. “That film did everything. It showed that it’s possible.”

Seals hopes one key difference between his cousin and Floyd is the outcome of any legal proceedings.

Despite a coroner’s jury recommending unanimously that all five police officers be charged in Gammage’s death, District Attorney Bob Colville charged three, including Brentwood Lt. Milton Mulholland, Brentwood Patrolman John Vojtas and Baldwin Borough Patrolman Michael Albert.

Trials for Mulholland and Albert resulted in a mistrial while Vojtas was acquitted.

All four former Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been charged.

Seals believes change will start with more accountability for police in the criminal justice system.

“They’ll think twice about it because the end results can be that they can end up in jail themselves,” he said.


Shelby Cassesse