Saturday, October 16, 2010, Danroy “DJ” Henry played what ended up being his last homecoming football game. DJ was a junior at Pace University, and was a corner back on the football team. DJ was a great student who enjoyed life, loved his family, loved sports, and always put God first.
That Saturday, The Henry family came to New York from Easton, MA to spend the day with DJ. They watched him play his homecoming game and took him to dinner afterwards. DJ’s family left New York around 6:00pm to head back home. DJ’s best friend Brandon Cox who is a football player at Stonehill College in Massachusetts had played against DJ is their homecoming football game. Brandon was spending the weekend with DJ at Pace University that weekend. DJ was with Brandon at all times because Brandon was not familiar with Pace and he didn’t want him to be uncomfortable. DJ, Brandon and some other friends from the Pace football team went to go out to Finnegan’s Bar & Grill that Saturday night.
DJ and two friends left the bar because of a disturbance and police were called to Finnegan’s. They were not involved in the incident that brought police to Finnegan’s that night. DJ and his two friends went to get his car and pulled up to the front of Finnegan’s so the other two friends could see him when they came out. DJ was asked to move out of the fire lane by a Mt. Pleasant police officer. He was not trying to flee the scene. He was simply going to do a loop around the parking lot to come back and pick up his friends.
By his own admission, Mr. Aaron Hess, a Pleasantville police officer, stepped in front of DJ’s car and left DJ very little time to stop. Witnesses, including the front seat passenger, cars parked behind DJ’s, and the bar owner, stated that DJ’s car was trying to stop before Mr. Hess opened fire on DJ’s car. Ballistic and forensic evidence prove that Aaron Hess opened fire on DJ’s car before being struck by the vehicle. In the early morning of October 17, 2010, DJ was killed by multiple gunshots and his front seat passenger was shot in the arm. His back seat passenger had bullet holes on either side of him. Hess’ intentions were evident by the amount of bullets he fired into a moving vehicle.
Witnesses from the scene verify that DJ was then dragged out of the car, handcuffed and left on the ground face down without CPR for 10-15 minutes. DJ’s parents were informed by the Westchester Medical Center that police had shot their son because “he was running officers down”. No one from either police department reached out to the Henry family to tell them what happened to DJ. It wasn’t until DJ’s father, Danory Sr. called the police department and asked them to meet with him and his family to tell them what happened to their son. The initial statement stated that DJ hit three officers, but in the matter of minutes the statement then changed to DJ only hitting one officer. Chief Alagno of the Mt. Pleasant police department stated that none of his officers were seriously injured and they all went home that night.
There are many things that took place after the shooting by the local police that are very suspicious and unjust. The same police departments that were involved in the taking of DJ’s life also investigated DJ’s death. These same departments collected evidence against themselves. They took both the surveillance tapes and the hard drives from the businesses in the shopping area. It is also very important to know that not one of the dash cameras from either police departments’ vehicles were operable the night DJ was killing. Also, DJ’s autopsy was performed without any representation from the Henry family despite being informed that the family would be sending someone. DJ’s cell phone service provider confirmed that DJ’s phone was used twice without permission after DJ was killed. Two large data transfers were made on his phone, which could include pictures, music or any info that was saved on his phone. When the Henry family brought this information to the Westchester District Attorney, Janet DiFiore, she told the family his phone was only used to see whom it belonged to. This isn’t true because the police took DJ’s cell phone out of his pocket while he laid on the ground handcuffed and bleeding to death. The police chief claims police left DJ handcuffed on the ground because they didn’t know he was shot. After firing five bullets into a moving vehicle, three of which went straight through the windshield aimed directly at the driver, they somehow thought no one was hit. DJ’s last words were him screaming “they shot me, they shot me” yet the police claim they didn’t know he was hurt as he bled out on the ground.
Another unjust gesture by the officials in Westchester County is that the medical examiner “leaked” unsubstantiated blood alcohol content, 4 days after DJ was killed after they told the Henry family the autopsy would take weeks. The BAC claimed to be .13 when in fact the autopsy states that there was no alcohol in DJ’s digestive track and system. A trace amount was found in his stomach, not nearly enough to give him a .13 BAC reading. DJ had half of a mixed drink around 9pm and didn’t finish it once he realized he would be the designated driver. Witnesses including the bar owner of Finnegan’s stated that DJ did not drink the entire time he was out that night. The police as well as the medical examiner’s office have repeatedly told the press that DJ was “drunk” that night.
After the police left DJ face down on the ground without any first aid, DJ’s friends and teammates tried to save his life by requesting to give him CPR. In return, the police beat, tasered, and threatened these students with guns to their heads and chests and told they would be next. These young men of are all different ethnicities, were also arrested and brought up on charges. Multiple YouTube videos show officers clearly out of control, as they were waving their loaded guns and yelling racial slurs at unarmed students, including young women. After four months, the DA dropped all charges against DJ’s teammates, claiming she was “siding with justice”. It’s believed that DA received pressure from the judge to release all audio and videotapes from that night (which still has not been released) which prompted her to drop all charges. The DA, Janet DiFiore, claims that she will release all tapes if asked. The Henry family has asked several times, once in court but was told no because it would “sway” a grand jury. How could these videos of true events “sway” a grand jury?
The grand jury decided not to indict Aaron Hess based off of whatever evidence the DA presented to them. The following day the Department of Justice announced they would be doing a full investigation into this case. The main concern everyone had was whether or not all evidence including all audio and surveillance tapes will be handed over to the Department of Justice by the Westchester DA.
Since the tragic events of October 17, 2010, the Pleasantville police chief from, Chief Chiarati has retired, the other officer who opened fire on DJ’s car, Officer Ronald Beckley has retired, and the owner Finnegan’s Bar & Grill has shut down his restaurant. Aaron Hess was also named “officer of the year” by his police union after killing DJ Henry and while currently being investigated by the Department of Justice.
DJ followed all the rules, has never been in any type of trouble, yet he was killed in such an inhumane way by the very people that are here to protect us. DJ Henry grew up in a middle/upper class community, and was well known in his community as a quiet, gentle and giving young man. Many were influenced by the way he lived his life. He was a great young man. Please help us get justice for DJ.