Charges May Be Dismissed Against Slain Pace University Student’s Teammates
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Prosecutors sought Wednesday to dismiss charges against four teammates of a Pace University college football player arrested after he was fatally shot by a police officer.
Convicting the four teammates of slain student Danroy “D.J.” Henry would “not serve the ends of justice,” prosecutors with the Westchester County district attorney’s office wrote in a motion filed in Mount Pleasant Town Court.
Three teammates of the slain Pace University athlete are accused of misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct and obstruction. They are Joseph Garcia of Floral Park, N.Y.; Yves Delpeche of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Daniel Parker of Lauderhill, Fla. A fourth teammate, Joseph Romanick of Slidell, La., is charged with criminal mischief, a felony.
Pace University said in a statement Wednesday that it was pleased with the decision by the Westchester County district attorney, Janet DiFiore, to dismiss the charges against the men. Three of them still attend Pace, and Garcia graduated in December, the university said.
In the court papers filed Wednesday, prosecutors wrote that the defendants’ actions after Henry’s killing on Oct. 17 resulted from “impulsive and youthful visceral reactions to the sudden, unexpected shooting of their friend.”
Prosecutors added: “The fact their conduct caused no physical injury to anyone (civilian or police) provide additional compelling factors supporting a discretionary dismissal.”
The defendants’ attorney, Bonita Zelman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
A hearing on the motion to dismiss was scheduled for March 24, but a judge could decide to grant it at any time.
A grand jury in February declined to indict the police officer who fatally shot the 20-year-old Henry of Easton, Mass., as he drove away from a bar in Thornwood, just north of New York City.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it would review the case for possible civil rights crimes. Henry was black; the police officers involved were white.
The motion to dismiss recounted the chaos surrounding the shooting and said that three teammates tried to rush past officers who were guarding the crime scene where Henry lay dying on the ground.
One of the defendants, according to court papers, yelled to the officers, “Come on, shoot me too.”
Romanick was accused of breaking the glass door of a nearby bagel store. The court papers said it can be inferred that Romanick was “angry, frustrated and distraught at the shooting of his friend.”
Police responding to a 911 call about a fight outside Finnegan’s Grill in the Thornwood Town Center came upon Henry, who had been in the bar, and was in a car parked in a fire lane. A police officer knocked on the driver’s-side window, and the car was put into gear.
The vehicle hit Pleasantville Officer Aaron Hess, who opened fire through the windshield. Henry was killed, and Hess was seriously injured.
The Henry family is planning to sue Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)