No federal charges will be filed in the shooting death of Danroy “D.J.” Henry Jr. of Easton by police in New York in 2010, the Manhattan US attorney’s office announced on Tuesday, saying “the evidence does not support” pursuing charges.
More than four years after Henry was shot through the windshield of his car by an officer outside of a restaurant in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., federal prosecutors said they could not prove that the officer intentionally violated Henry’s civil rights.
Henry’s parents, who have been searching for accountability since the shooting, were informed of the federal prosecutors’ decision earlier on Tuesday. Following their son’s death, Henry’s parents, Angella and Danroy, filed lawsuits against the Pleasantville Police Department and Aaron Hess, the officer who shot Henry.
A grand jury did not indict anyone in Henry’s death. His parents could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Henry, 20, was out with several friends at Finnegan’s Grill in Mount Pleasant on the night of Oct. 17, 2010 when a fight broke out among several bar patrons. Henry was not involved in the altercation, but Finnegan’s Grill closed for the night as a result, calling the police and forcing all bar patrons to leave.
Henry, a student at Pace University, returned to his car as officers from both the Mount Pleasant and Pleasantville police departments responded, said the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara.
A Mount Pleasant officer approached Henry’s car and knocked on the window. As Henry pulled out of the fire lane, the officer asked him to stop, according to authorities.
A Pleasantville officer, Hess, then stepped in front of Henry’s car. The US attorney said that “although there are inconsistencies in the witness accounts regarding the chronology” of the events that followed, investigators found that Henry’s car was braking when it struck Hess. He ended up on the hood and fired through the windshield, killing Henry, authorities said. One of the passengers in Henry’s car, Brandon Cox, was wounded.
The investigation also revealed that Henry had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 at the time of his death, which according to the US attorney, has been “disputed by some parties.”
Also on Tuesday, the office said it “examined the evidence regarding the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and the failure of officers on the scene, which was chaotic, to administer medical care to Mr. Henry as they waited for EMT crews. Here, too, the office could not conclude that the officers’ actions amounted to a willful criminal civil rights violation.”
In addition, the US attorney’s investigation examined whether any criminal violation of the civil rights of Cox occurred when he was injured by a bullet. Prosecutors said his injury came from “the same facts that led to Mr. Henry’s shooting, and for the same reasons, the evidence does not support pursuing federal criminal charges.”