Henry, a 20-year-old junior from Easton, Massachusetts, known as “D.J.”, was killed Oct. 17, 2010, by Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess outside Finnegan’s Grill, a popular nightspot for students from the nearby Pace campus.
Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant officers swarmed the parking lot outside the bar after receiving reports of a rowdy crowd there. Henry was in his car when one officer knocked on his window. Police said he pulled away instead.
Authorities said Hess stepped in front of the car and was hit, landing on the hood. Hess fired through the windshield, killing Henry and wounding Brandon Cox, a Stonehill College football player who was high school friends with Henry.
Mount Pleasant police Officer Ronald Beckley also fired his weapon, but has said that he shot at Hess, whom he considered the aggressor in the situation.
But the shooting sparked a series of lawsuits, including by Cox and Desmond Hines, another passenger in Henry’s car, and by seven Pace students who were at the scene and alleged that officers used excessive force after they responded.
Henry’s family called the incident “reckless and inexcusable.”
They alleged in their civil claims that Hess was unjustified in shooting the college junior, then refused him medical aid after pulling him from the car and handcuffing him.
The family alleged that Henry was initially able to stand but died after being left on the ground bleeding. He said officers didn’t even ask if he was injured.
Sussman said the town acknowledged that Henry was driving at a low rate of speed when Hess lunged on the hood and was not acting reckless at the time.
The family of Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr., a Pace University student shot and killed by police outside a Thornwood bar in 2010, have settled their final civil lawsuit in the case.
The settlement with the Town of Mount Pleasant includes an apology from the town and a commitment to make a $250,000 contribution to the DJ Henry Dream Fund, a charity in the slain man’s honor that provides college scholarships.
It comes 14 months after his parents, Angella and Danroy Henry Sr., settled a separate federal lawsuit with the village of Pleasantville for $6 million.
“We can never bring DJ back, and his family must bear the agony of his loss,” Michael Sussman, the attorney for the family, said during a conference call Tuesday. “But we can take lessons from this event which makes its repetition less likely.”
“More carefully selecting police officers, training them to use deadly force only when absolutely necessary and fully investigating these tragedies before releasing public statements based on stereotypes and defensiveness,” Sussman said. “Only if we learn and implement these lessons can anything positive come from this tragedy.”
Sussman first reported the settlement in a April 14 letter to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, who was presiding over the case in White Plains federal court. Karas officially dismissed the lawsuit on April 20.
Those documents did not disclose financial terms, nor would Sussman discuss the terms on Tuesday. He did say that the deal includes financial compensation for the Henry family beyond the contribution to the DJ Henry Dream Fund.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation,”Fulgenzi said. “The loss of of life for any reason, especially a child, was a very sad thing.”
“These are good people,” he said. “If I was able to see them face-to-face, I would just express to them condolences for the loss of the life of their son.”
“The constant is that we feel the void left by losing our oldest son,” Danroy Henry Sr. said Tuesday. “While the gala is always a time to celebrate his legacy, I think what will be really helpful this year isn’t so much that there’s no pending litigation. It’s that the record as it relates to his reputation has now been cleared.”
“I think that will add a measure of celebration to the lives of the children we’re celebrating, who are frankly carrying on is legacy through the foundation,” he said.
*Excerpts taken from USA Today.