John F. “Benjamin” Evans

John F. “Benjamin” Evans, an officer with the Pittsburgh Police Department, was shot by Edward J. Coffey on August 4, 1885, while trying to arrest him outside a saloon at 6th and Penn Avenue. Evans died two days later.

Coffey, the son of a prominent family, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. After failing in his efforts to use his family’s resources to overturn his conviction or his sentence, Coffey committed suicide on January 24, 1888, the eve of his execution.

This was the first case in which the killing of a police officer in Allegheny County resulted in a first degree murder conviction.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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