Slain student’s family seeks answers

Mother demands accountability

Family and friends of Danroy Henry Jr. held a vigil last night in Easton a year after he was fatally shot by police in New York.
Family and friends of Danroy Henry Jr. held a vigil last night in Easton a year after he was fatally shot by police in New York. YOON S. BYUN/GLOBE STAFF/Boston Globe

EASTON - A year after their son was shot and killed by police in New York State, the family of Danroy “D.J.’’ Henry Jr. say they are still seeking answers, and looking for accountability for his death.

D.J. Henry, 20, a Pace University football player from Easton, was killed by police outside a restaurant in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., on Oct. 17, 2010.

“I don’t want anyone to forget our son was murdered,’’ said Angella Henry, the student’s mother, speaking to reporters at a press conference yesterday marking the anniversary of the shooting.

“We still don’t have answers to lots of questions.’’


Police say Henry tried to run down a police officer with his car and refused commands to stop. But reports from witnesses have said Henry was trying to move his car from a fire lane at the request of a police officer, when another officer jumped in front of the car to try to stop it.

That officer, Aaron Hess of the Pleasantville Police Department, fired a shot through the windshield while he held on to the hood of the car; another officer from the Mount Pleasant department also fired at the car. A grand jury did not indict anyone in Henry’s death. The US Department of Justice is investigating the killing.

The Henry family has filed a federal lawsuit against Hess and the Pleasantville Police Department and intends to use the discovery process to get access to grand jury evidence in the case that they say they have not yet seen.

The family’s lawyer, Michael Sussman, said he hopes to delve into discovery in the case within the next six months.

Henry’s family said yesterday that they cannot believe their son intentionally tried to run anyone over, but that they are prepared to accept the truth.

“No matter what, we won’t get our son back,’’ said Angella Henry. She said she does not expect that a full explanation of her son’s death will bring her any sense of peace, but “it would bring a sense of accountability.


“It can’t be OK to live in a world where it’s OK to shoot and kill someone and there’s no accountability,’’ she said in a brief interview.

She wore a wristband with the words “Justice for DJ’’ yesterday, and lightly wiped tears during the press conference.

Henry’s father, Danroy Sr., said the anniversary of his son’s death was “another really painful day.’’ He urged reporters to dig beyond reports that D.J.’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit the night of the shooting, and focus on “what was really going on that night?’’

The family held the press conference in the parking lot of the Evolution Sports Performance complex, which has named a new practice field after D.J. Henry.

Friends and family planned a vigil for Henry last night in Easton.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com.