Joseph R. Pokorny, Jr. was born August 27, 1960, in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
He graduated from Center Area High School in 1978, and enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Police on July 5, 1983. Following graduation from the Academy on November 17, 1983, Trooper Pokorny was assigned to Troop B, Washington, as a member of the Patrol Unit. On April 2, 1990, Trooper Pokorny was detached to the Greensburg Tactical Narcotic Team. On September 2, 2000, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and was transferred to Troop T, where he was assigned as a Patrol Unit Supervisor at the Newville Station. Corporal Pokorny transferred back to Troop B on March 31, 2001, where he served as Patrol Unit Supervisor at Belle Vernon, and then Pittsburgh. On June 7, 2003, he was assigned as the Troop Vice Unit Supervisor at Troop B, Washington Headquarters. Corporal Pokorny returned to the Pittsburgh Station on January 17, 2004, where he served as a Patrol Unit Supervisor at Troop B, until his death on December 12, 2005.
Corporal Pokorny lost his life on December 12, 2005, shortly after 2:00 a.m., when he stopped a car for speeding on SR 279(also known as the Parkway) outside the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County. During the traffic stop, a struggle ensued. Corporal Pokorny was shot twice with his service weapon. One of the wounds proved fatal, and Corporal Pokorny died at the scene. The occupants of the vehicle all fled the area.
After an extensive investigation by State Police, Allegheny County Police, City of Pittsburgh Police, and numerous other law enforcement agencies, on December 14, 2005, Leslie Mollett was charged with and arraigned on criminal homicide and other related crimes relative to the death of Corporal Pokorny. At the time of this incident, Mollett was on parole from prison for other offenses that he committed.
Thousands of law enforcement officers from Florida to California were in attendance at St. Frances Cabrini Church in Aliquippa on December 16, 2005, for the memorial service. From a rifle tribute, to a riderless horse, the 22-year veteran was honored in every way.
Governor Edward G. Rendell noted, “Corporal Pokorny died while serving the citizens of the Commonwealth. His tragic death reminds us once again that our law enforcement personnel put their lives at risk each time they put on their uniforms.”
Corporal Pokorny is survived by two children; a daughter, Alexandre, 15, and a son, Joseph, 17. He is also survived by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph R. Pokorny, Sr., of Aliquippa, and a brother, Frank, and sister, Laura.
At 45 years of age, Corporal Pokorny, a 22-year veteran of the Department, was the 91st member to be killed in the line of duty.
Corporal Pokorny is buried in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.