No Indictment Issued In Pace University Student Shooting

D.J. Henry's Family Planning $120 Mil Lawsuit Against 2 Towns

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A grand jury determined Monday that a police officer did not commit a crime when he shot and killed a college football player through the windshield of the student’s car.

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said jurors found “no reasonable cause for an indictment” in the death of 20-year-old Danroy “D.J.” Henry Jr., of Easton, Mass.

Henry’s father, Danroy Henry Sr., who had demanded a murder indictment against the officer , said, “There are no words to express our disappointment.” He repeated his call for a federal investigation.

“What happened was murder,” Henry told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

D.J. Henry, a Pace University student, was killed Oct. 17 when officers fired at his car as he drove away from a bar in Thornwood, just north of New York City.

Police had been called to a disturbance that spilled out of the bar after the Pace homecoming game.

Henry, who had been in the bar earlier, was parked in his Nissan in a fire lane when a policeman knocked on the driver’s-side window. Autopsy results showed an alcohol level in Henry’s blood that exceeded the legal limit for driving, but his family insists he was not drunk.

Police said Henry sped off; his family said he moved away at parking lot speed, believing the officer was instructing him to move.

Henry’s car hit Officer Aaron Hess, of the Pleasantville police force, and Hess ended up on the hood of the Nissan, firing through the windshield.

Through his lawyer, Hess acknowledged that he shot at Henry. He said he was in fear for his life and had no choice.

But Henry’s parents said they felt Hess should be charged with murder. Henry family lawyer Michael Sussman said the shooting was “nothing short of intentional murder.”

Sussman said the police’s claims have never been challenged.

“This man jumps in front of a car. I’ve heard never a credible, reasonable explanation. This wasn’t the fleeing felon. DJ Henry wasn’t running away from some crime he committed and nobody had any belief that he was,” he told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon speaks with the Henry family’s lawyer Michael Sussman

Another officer also shot at the car but apparently hit the hood.

The family said it will continue to seek to the truth and wants the United States Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to the case. They said the Westchester District Attorney should have never been allowed to investigate its own law enforcement officers.

“In any case of a police shooting someone other than the district attorney of that county who works intimately with local police agencies. But she cannot also investigate those same police agencies with integrity,” Sussman told Carlin.

The Department of Justice said it would monitor the case. It would review the evidence to determine whether there were any civil rights crimes, New York U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Ellen Davis said Monday night.

Danroy Henry Sr. testified before the grand jury on Jan. 28. Afterward, he said, “I’m having now to talk about how my son died and not about how he lived, and that’s what’s really difficult about it.”

He and his wife appeared on national television several times, insisting they wanted only “the absolute truth.”

D.J. Henry was black; the police officers involved were white. Henry’s parents refused to blame the shooting on racial prejudice, saying they did not know what was in Hess’ heart.

DiFiore said Hess testified “without the protection of immunity from prosecution.” She said there were 85 witnesses in all before the month-long grand jury session.

“We never believed these guys were pursuing an indictment,” Henry said.

In the chaos that followed the shooting, which was widely seen from amateur video, four of Henry’s classmates were arrested on various charges including obstruction. Those charges are pending.

The Henry family is planning a $120 million lawsuit against Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant. Danroy Henry Sr. said Monday that the grand jury’s finding was “not designed to tell the truth but rather to minimize the civil and criminal liability of agencies involved.”

On Monday night at Pace University, where D.J. Henry was a junior, the grand jury decision had some students feeling angry and suspicious.

“People wonder if they can trust cops anymore,” student India Burgess told Carlin.

Pace released the following statement: “We understand that the decision will disappoint many students. … If the Justice Department determines that a civil rights investigation is appropriate, we will provide our full support.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Sarah

    This case could have been dealt with differently. You have how many police arrive that early morning and yet the scene according to those there and the video shown was chaotic. One cop with his gun drawn at young college students who were crying and screaming because they saw their friend lay on the ground dying. What are cops trained to do? Make matters worse by stepping in front of a moving car? First motioning it to move then to stop? I’ve been following the story and hope the parents do everything in their power to find closure for themselves and justice for their sons death. The only wrong thing that happened here was there was NO trained professionals to break up the unruly college students and leave one dead.

  • Micha

    This is and will always be a tragedy, but I don’t think the family really has a case. This kid was drunk and drove his car into a cop. If he had lived, he would have been facing felony charges. No one seems to want to put the shoe on the other foot. If you were the cop, what would you have done? I udnerstand Mr. Henry’s family wanting someone to blame and I appreciate that they aren’t pulling the usual race card, but they need to just see this for what it was- a sad accident. RIP DJ HENRY

  • Mr. Armenia

    Josh are you out of your mind. He hit a police officer with his car. that is vehicular assault.

    • Josh

      I don’t believe that people deserve to die for accidentally hitting a cop with their car. He wasn’t going fast enough to cause life threatening injuries considering the officer sustained a broken leg?, yet was somehow able to jump onto the hood of the car and fire his weapon. While Henry may have been charged with vehicular assault, the penalty for that isn’t death. If that makes me out of my mind, then so be it.

  • Josh

    DJ Henry did not deserve to die for his actions. While he may have been intoxicated (how convenient of the police to release that), he was not a violent criminal and he wasn’t threatening the officers. The cop who killed him could just as easily have gotten a squad car to follow him and pull him over. There was no need for deadly force here. Those of you who lash out at Henry and suggest that he got what he deserved are either cold-hearted or just plain old bigots. Look beyond race. What happened here wasn’t necessary.

    • SMH...

      I will put this out there… If you were an officer and saw a car pulling away from a tense situation… would you first think… “oh let me go over to my squat car and follow him” or would you step out in front of the car and tell the kid to stop, especially if the student was pulling away at a reasonable speed. It would make sense why the officer walked out in front of the car if he didn’t feel threatened… I personally think the officer was fine until he was surprisingly hit, I am sure DJ wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see the officer… he probably was looking back at the situation; I know I would have been… After the officer and student collided they probably got freak out, panicked, and the tragedy occurred.

    • steve

      I’ll put this out there, if you are driving drunk, you ARE a violent criminal

  • Mr. armenia

    The police here are being persecuted by some of you bloggers for doing his job.

    Maybe if Mr. Henry and his friends were not acting like savages a tragedy would not have been prevented.

    Plus now Mr. henry was legally drunk as well. 20 years old underage drinking. Typical college behavior.Poor parenting.

    • Bigotry at its worst

      Now they’re savages? Is that based on the color of their skin? Amazing how someone who could be Armenian would say something so bigotted and hateful considering the tragic history of genocide in Armenia. Just ignorant.

  • himmy o

    Students from Pace should boycott the where these police work!!!

  • Rev. Charles L. Nowell, Sr.

    God, said in word vengance is mine said the Lord I will repay. If this officer have kids, just keeping living.

  • Marcel Regensburg

    It becomes increasingly hard to trust police that believe in killing first and asking questions later. How was Pleasantville police officer Aaron Hess in fear for his life? He could have stepped out of the way and shot the tires. There was NO need to kill Danroy Henry.

    • SMH...

      Heine sight is 20/20…

      It is so easy for someone to go out and say the officer should have done something different but if the student killed the officer would you say the same things.

      I am 100% sure the officer never wanted to hurt let alone kill the pace student. I know the officer and I go the school and I had the unique opportunity to see both sides of the coin. This was truly just a tragic mistake of judgment on behalf of both parties…

  • Why Shaggy

    right decision.

  • each1Teach1

    I would like to send my condolence out to the Henry family. I have read about this case from a few different sources and the story has basically stayed the same. It was poor judgment for DJ Henry to pull over into the fire line in the mist of all the commotion and with the police being deployed to the bar with orders to disperse the crowd. It was also poor judgment for Officer Hess to jump in front of a moving vehicle. There were plenty of police cars that could have chased them if they were trying to flee the area. They were also in a plaza so I don’t think they would have got far if he was truly trying to run from the law. I think it was an accidental death and the Henry family should be compensated for their lost. A great young man who has never been in trouble with a bright future in front of him life was taken by a series if unfortunate events.

  • JasonS

    “DJ Henry wasn’t running away from some crime he committed and nobody had any belief that he was”

    Er….he was drunk behind the wheel of a car. The stupidity of these people just amazes me.

    • DanTe

      Why do you insist on them having intelligence? Expecting them to behave in a human manner is what caused these troubles to begin with.



  • Retired old Guy

    The preverbial “who Cares”. There’s always one in every comment section. If you doon’t care in the future please don’t bother to read the article and please, please don’t bother to comment. Makes you look like a fool to not care.

  • oswaldo cabrera

    Shame, Shame, Shame. Another lost life and no one is to blame.

    • DanTe

      You people rhyme good, don’t ya?

  • Johnny Handsome

    Where’s my comment Mr. Nazi Moderator? Think I’m gonna have to get you fired.

  • Eileen

    This is the right decision.

  • redneck sam

    shocking…totally shocking. sooo how about those rangers..???

  • Richard

    Let the riots begin!

    • Johnny Handsome

      No riots. Just good old fashion street justice. An eye for and eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life.

      • Nick

        So you’re going to try get a white man to run into you with his car?

  • Mike


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