Evidence in shooting of student released

Family of slain football player pursuing suit

Danroy Henry Jr., a college student from Easton killed by police in 2010 as he drove away from a bar disturbance, was traveling at less than 15 miles per hour when he was shot through the windshield, the lawyer for Henry’s family said Friday.

The speed, part of newly released evidence in the case, could emerge as a key factor in the family’s wrongful death suit against police in Pleasantville, N.Y.

There are conflicting accounts of what occurred after a homecoming game at Pace University, where Henry played football. The police officer who shot Henry, Aaron Hess, contends that Henry’s car struck him, throwing him onto the hood, and forcing him to shoot through the windshield in self-defense.


But the family’s suit contends that Henry was following police instructions to move his car out of a fire lane and driving “at a reasonable rate of speed’’ when Hess suddenly jumped in front of the vehicle, climbed onto the hood, and fired four shots.

A grand jury in New York last year failed to indict Hess in connection with shooting.

The Henrys’ lawyer, Michael Sussman, said the speed was determined from video footage that was among the large collection of evidence unsealed by a federal judge Thursday. “It’s literally hundreds and hundreds of items,’’ Sussman said.

The evidence includes radio transmissions and statements of passengers in Henry’s vehicle and of police personnel directly involved in the incident, he said.

Sussman, who represents Henry’s family in a lawsuit against the Police Department and the officer who shot Henry, said the documents and footage would be posted on his website, www.sussmanwatkinslaw.com, Monday.

Sussman said Henry’s family is pleased with the judge’s decision to release the documents. “They want every degree of transparency,’’ he said. “They want this to be a pursuit of the truth.’’


The evidence also shows that the dashboard camera was turned off in at least one police cruiser during the video, said Sussman. There is no video that shows the shooting, he said.

Lawyers for Hess and the Pleasantville Police Department could not be reached for comment.

Sussman said video footage from the scene shows that Henry did not receive medical treatment for some time after the shooting, while officers attended quickly to Hess. Sussman said certain evidence shows that Henry was “not intoxicated or in any manner impaired.’’ Autopsy results showed that Henry’s blood-alcohol level was above the legal driving limit.

Cellphone records show that Henry was in “constant communication’’ with family members who “testify to his lucidity,’’ just before the shooting, he said, and there are photographs of Henry interacting with friends inside and outside the bar.

The evidence also includes testimony from a witness who saw Hess with his gun drawn, he said.

Sussman declined to say whether he believes the material will help his case, but said the public should have the opportunity to judge the evidence.

“This case is going to be tried in federal court,’’ he said. “But I think the public has the right to review the material and judge it.’’

Sussman said he hoped the case would go to trial within a year.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.