Parents Sue Police Officer Who Shot, Killed DJ Henry

By Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) – The parents of a college football player are suing the policeman who shot and killed him, calling the shooting an “unconscionable use of force.”

Read: The Lawsuit (.pdf)

In a complaint to be filed Wednesday afternoon, Danroy Henry Sr. and Angella Henry of Easton, Mass., say the officer violated the civil and constitutional rights of their son, Danroy Henry Jr., and demand compensation for their son’s death and their suffering.

Watch: Henry Family Statement

“The pain of losing our son so suddenly is insatiable and not only has his absence changed us forever, but his suffering will always haunt us as well,” the parents said in a statement.

The Pleasantville, N.Y., officer, Aaron Hess, was cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury in February.

His colleagues recently named him Officer of the Year.

His lawyer, John K. Grant, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Hess shot Henry through the windshield of Henry’s car Oct. 17 as the 20-year-old drove away from a disturbance that spilled out of a bar in Thornwood, N.Y., after the Pace University homecoming game.

Autopsy results found Henry’s blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit, but the family says Henry was not drunk.

Hess has said he was hit by the car, thrown onto the hood and had no choice but to fire to stop the driver.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

In their complaint, the Henrys say the car was moving at a reasonable speed. They say Hess jumped in front of the car, “ascended” the hood and fired at their son for no good reason.

They say he “steadied himself and fired four shots.”  The complaint says the shooting was “an unconscionable act, shocking to the judicial conscience and the sort of action which must be eliminated and deterred to preserve the values of a civilized society.”

It says Henry, who was a defensive back for Pace, “planned to pursue a career in the National Football League and/or business” and his death caused his parents monetary harm.

The lawsuit also names the village of Pleasantville as a defendant. It says the village contributed to Henry’s death by failing to properly train and supervise Hess.

WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton reports.

A message left for Pleasantville Administrator Patricia Dwyer was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit alleges civil rights violations, but there is no specific mention of race in the complaint. Henry was black and Hess is white.

The parents have previously refused to blame the shooting on racial prejudice, saying they did not know what was in Hess’ heart.  However, they have requested a federal investigation, and the Justice Department has said it would review the case for possible civil rights violations.

The Henrys said in January they also planned to sue the town of Mount Pleasant because a Mount Pleasant officer also fired at Henry’s car. But their lawyer, Michael Sussman, said Wednesday they decided to sue only those who whose actions caused their son’s death.

No specific amount of damages was listed in the complaint.  Sussman said in January the Henrys would seek $120 million.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


One Comment

  1. Joey says:

    DJ Henry’s blood alcohol level was allegedly 0.13, or nearly twice the legal limit. I wonder how the family plans to explain why their son was drunk driving and hit a police officer. this is a sad case and I feel bad for both the family and the officers involved.

    1. Don says:

      You mean, Joey, the police officer who jumped on the car and fired into it w/o looking and letting DJ bleed to death? You’re right, I do feel sorry for both– this soon-to-be incarcerated officer and especially for the family who lost their son so unnecessarily.

  2. blackbear1 says:

    This again?? I do feel sorry for these people, but they are in denial and need grief counseling. They are going to put themselves in the grave!!

    1. Don says:


      You’re right.. This family will need grief counseling for a long time. But what are they in denial of…….their son being dead?

  3. Hoofarted says:

    It has been about the money right from the start….

    1. Don says:


      Obviously you did.

      1. HooFarted says:

        Great reply…great reply…I bow to your far superior intellect…

        Oh wait…it is about the money…I’ll believe it is not about the money when they give every penny of any money they win to a charity like St. Jude’s…

      2. Don says:

        When you say that it’s about the money, to what does ‘it’ refer? Just curious since that phrase is thrown around a lot–sounds like envy on your part, when the family is seeking justice.

  4. sloppyjoe says:

    How did the officer mysteriously end up on the roof?

    1. Don says:


      Read about the facts and you’ll find out. He jumped on it and just fire away inside the car w/o looking. Average police protocol, I assume.

  5. judgenot says:

    Given the disgusting, insensitive comments made above, perhaps these people are fortunate enough to never have lost a child or known someone who has. Perhaps they’ve also never been terrorized or victimized by members of law enforcement.

    1. Don says:


      Looks like those who refuse to learn facts would rather remain blissfully biased about anything. Sad, but in this case, reprehensible..

  6. bill says:

    these people need to stop blaming everyone else for their sons death. bottem line is the cops told him to stop and he didnt. hopefully they dont get a penny from this lawsuit!!

    1. Don says:


      Do you know all of the facts from this case, such as the police letting DJ bleed to death? Or was this the parents’ fault too?

      These facts are available if you really want to know.

      1. bill says:

        yes i know the facts read them all, the cop was on the hood of the car because the underage drunk driver tried to run him over, that is assault and battery on an officer, he had every right to shoot and kill.

      2. Ashley says:

        wow.. looks like bill has no loved ones

      3. Don says:


        Believe it or not, I also tend to lean toward a policeman’s account, but I think you need to read all of the accounts w/ any open mind,especially those of the eyewitnesses.

  7. Paul says:

    I hope that the officer(s) and the Town(s) involved in this lawsuit sue the Parents for the costs to defend this lawsuit. If the Parents can sue the Town(s) for the negligence of its officers, then the Town(s) should be able to sue for the negligence of their minor/dependant son. Do you remember when the Parents said “This is NOT about money”….Hmmmm $120MM….Perhaps they should have taught the son not to drink and drive….Oh, that must be the school’s fault. Perhaps they can blame peer pressure….they should sue “society”

    1. Don says:


      Frankly, because of the unethical manner by which the civil case was handled, I don’t think the officers involved here want anything else to do with this case. The Feds will have a field day w/ them.

      There will be plenty of police job openings in Pleasantville later this year.

      1. Paul says:

        It is only “unethical” because the Parents did not like the outcome. I feel sorry for the Parents’ loss….but .13, behind the wheel, moving forward….the officer probably saved other lives. I am not sorry that this kid is no longer driving my streets. I have NO sympathy for drunk drivers…AT ALL.

      2. Don says:


        I share your hatred of drunk driving. Perhaps, the lack of ethics at the civil trial is one reason why the parents didn’t like the outcome. Also, the way you described DJ leaving the scene isn’t accurate, according to the eyewitnesses.

  8. MaryR says:

    Are you people crazy, insensitve, heartless?? They lost their son for NO GOOD reason at all, bc he didnt stop when the police told DJ to stop. Police tend to alter stories anyways. And when have you ever heard of someone getting shot bc he or she didnt stop,or bc you were drunk, COME ON now people wake up, the police are wrong is this case. The family has every right to sue and I hope they collect millions…… To the family I hope you can find peace and I pray you get millions.

    1. bill says:

      did u not read the part about him hitting a cop with his car and kept driving with the cop on the hood, they had ever right to defend themselves from a drunk driver trying to KILL the officer

      1. Don says:


        Which version of the facts did you read from? The policeman jumped on the hood first and just fired away into the car w/o looking and left DJ to bleed to death. Who was trying to kill whom?

    2. Ron says:

      Clearly you’re either a member of this traitorous family, or you’re their equally traitorous lawyer. The police were 100% CORRECT and you along w/ all the clueless supporters of this obviously RACIST family need to leave America today.

      1. Don says:

        If you think the police are 100% correct, Ron, then you sound like the racist here. If you care about facts, they’re available to all who really want them.

    3. Don says:


      Sad that many are more concerned about their own self righteousness which allows them to judge hurting families w/o knowing the facts. This family surely needs our prayers, whether they get the money or not. The truth will come out soon and they will at least have a little compensation even though it will never compare w/ losing a son.

  9. dave says:

    There buying their good name. Press Conferences, events at Convention centers. Enough already. Your 15 minutes of fame are long gone.

    1. Don says:

      Sorry Dave but losing a son in such a blatantly unnecessary fashion will last forever.

  10. patti says:

    I am so happy to see these parents are going after the office that killed their son. DJ posed no threat to this man–perhaps the color of his skin was the threat ? Too many times, officers shoot first and ask questions later. I find this family to be both very intelligent and quite classy. They were getting no answers from the police as to what exactly happened. According to eye witnesses, DJ did exactly what the officers asked of him. We all know whenever one officer lies, they all swear to it.

    All that aside–how dare that force deem this man to be Officer of the Year–its disgusting !

    1. bill says:

      patti how is not stopping ur car when the police officer demands u to stop doing exactly what he was told

      1. Ashley says:

        and how is shoot to KILL allowed?????? how can you EVEN MAKE the comparison?! he was a young teen boy who knew he was in trouble so he took off… PAAA LEAAAASEEEEE.. if everyone got killed who did that? about 50 people i know would be out of my life…

    2. Don says:


      Good point about these eyewitness accounts. This is another reason why these police officers are going to get pounded by the Feds

    3. Don says:


      The Officer of the Year fiasco only adds to the lack of ethics which the family was submitted to at their civil trial. The Feds are going to love this one.

  11. reserved says:

    I don’t know any cop or anybody for that matter who would jump onto the hood of a moving car. I feel for the family and their loss and they will never be “over it.” However, suing for money isn’t a solution either. This is just what our society has unfortunately become. The facts are that Henry’s blood alcohol level WAS above the limit, he refused to stop for the police, and he ran over a police officer. These are the facts. When the police direct you to stop, you STOP. Society today loves to switch the blame onto someone else, it is unfortunate we have become this way. If HENRY had lived, he would have been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in the least and assault with intent to murder at the max, as well as, failure to stop for a police officer. People love blaming the police. Remember why the police were there, to break up a disturbance. Get real people.

    1. Don says:


      I think you need to reread the facts. First, the fact that the officer jumped on the car does make it strange because this is surely not protocol. Secondly, this civil lawsuit is a natural resort, by law, if the civil trial was unethical which is also a fact.

      1. Jimmy says:

        You continue to call the civil trial as being “unethical” and that that is a “fact”. Your, or the Parents’ “opinion” is not fact…it’s an opinion…and we ALL have them. If you would like FACTS….The kid was drunk…the kid was 20 (underaged for drinking) .the kid’s blood level was .13. The officer was cleared of ANY wrongdoing by a lawful Grand Jury. The kid was driving a car towards the officer. The kids failed to stop. The officer shot and killed the perpetrator. Those “facts” have yet to be proven to be anything but.

  12. royp says:

    If a car is about to hit you a last ditch effort may be to jump up. Officers take the use of deadly force very seriously. They know any time they use their weapon they will be scrutinized. The courts have already exonerated him, the family knows there is a lesser burden of proof in a civil trial. Or the city will settle for 20-30 million. If the cop was wrong at all it wasn’t out of malice but fear. Now his life is ruined as well. Do you think he won’t be haunted? And who are the “witnesses”, No-one mentions their race. Remember the OJ verdict!

    1. Don says:

      To both Jimmy and royp,

      We’ll have to wait and see if the ‘stacked-deck’ Grand Jury testimony will hold up before the Feds when a true investigation will bring forth the remaining facts. Then there will really be ‘fear’ on these officers’ faces.

  13. betty says:

    Kid was a punk, and the parents are making themselves look like a$$e$!

    Stop trying to profit from your son’s death. ….now go away.

    1. Don says:


      Your objectivity is overwhelming.

      ‘Stop trying to profit from your son’s death?’ You might need to to take a deep breath and realize what you said here.

    2. CLP says:

      he was in no way a punk and if he was does that make him being shot and put face down on the ground to die right? its a lot easer to make a case when the other side is dead.

      1. Don says:


        The way DJ was left to bleed to death is going to be a huge part of the Feds’ investigation here. The Henry’s main issue concerns the manner of DJ’s death and how it could have been prevented.

        Won’t be pretty for these officers.

  14. Ugh says:

    Ahhh, money! It fixes everything. I’m curious what amount is “compensation for their son’s death.”

    1. Jimmy says:

      evidently $120MM minus the 1/3 to the ambulance chasing (or in this case hearse chasing) attorney

      1. Don says:

        You seem to be so concerned, Jimmy & Ugh, about someone else making $. As Queen Gertrude once said, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

      2. Don says:

        Way too much concern here, Jimmy, about the $. Any parent would like some good old fashioned justice, which these parents didn’t even get at the civil trial.

    2. Don says:


      No need to be curious here. There is no amount of $ which can compensate for a life.

      1. Jimmy says:

        I agree….then they should get NO AMOUNT OF MONEY!!!

      2. HooFarted says:

        I agree, then they shoud give every single penny of any money they win to a charity like St Jude’s…but you know what? I am 100% positive them won’t…

  15. mia says:

    I am sorry but I do not agree with some of you, first of all I believe that he used accessive force why did he have to shot to kill and not just fire his gun up in the air.. I understand that his blood alcohol was high but he did not have to take the action he did. I think that the bar should be held liable for serving a minor but I have not heard anyone mention that.

    1. Don says:

      Good point, Mia. This lack of appropriate protocol will not sit well w/ the Feds.

      1. Mia says:

        I agree with you Don.

    2. HooFarted says:

      Fire his gun in the air?? Really?? Are you living in an old cowboy movie?

      Do you think that bullets just evaporate when they are fired in the air? What if it came down and hit someone in the head killing an innocent person??

      The officer fired at the perpetrator, I am sure he didn’t stop to ask him if he was a good kid. The car was coming at him and he fired at the drives side windshield. He was not “shooting to kill” he was shooting to stop the car. If the driver was shot in the shoulder and had stopped that would have worked too.

      You cannot positively aim through a windshield due to what is called refraction. The bullet will not go where you aim it, so if you are shooting through a windshield you are shooting at the center of mass in the general area of the perpetrator. The bullet could have hit anywhere from the head to the stomach in the center of mass due to the refraction of the bullet hitting the glass.

      1. Don says:


        What’s your point here? Do you even know the facts of what happened here? The officer was the one who thought he was The Terminator.

        Stay tuned.

  16. alberto says:

    all black people want to do all the time is sue when a family members gets kill is always someone else fault they never want to take any responsibilities for their actions and im not racist im just saying the truth.

    1. Don says:


      ‘All black people’, huh? Sorry we can’t all have pure motives like Hispanics do.

    2. patti says:

      wow–hard to come up to a response to that comment. Let me guess–you would like to see Sara Palin in the White House ??????

      There is trash, greed and insensitivity in all races.. You need some serious therapy !

    3. Mia says:

      We have good and bad in every nationality< Do you believe that is the only reason these parents are suing.I don't. I really do not thing money is the issue here. Alberto I do not believe that the money is an issue here..

      1. Don says:


        Good point. Too much focus on the $. Some good old fashioned justice would be just fine, don’t you think?

  17. Mia says:

    No money in the world will ever bring their son back but knowing what really happen might ease the pain. Everyone is so focus on the money and not at the real issues at hand..

  18. Mia says:

    I never saiid I was an expert in the matter. I saw the windshield cracked and from what I understood the officer jumped on the hood of car, I apollogize if I read it wrong.

    1. Don says:

      No apology needed, Mia. You both read it and heard it correctly.

  19. blackbear1 says:

    Jumped on the hood of the car?? Who came up with that one? Witnesses like the large group of drinking college students? You couldn’t possibly believe that. Somne previous poster stated that a couple of times like it was a slam dunk true statement. I don’t think so!! Someone also mentioned unethical behavior at the civil trial. What civil trial?? That has not occured yet. Have any of you tried facing down a group of drinking college students after hours?? Talk about wagons circling and unresonable dialogue.

  20. Don says:


    Shouldn’t believe everything you hear–like ignorance is bliss. Drunk eyewitnesses? Great ‘cop-out’ for those who don’t know the facts.

    Stay tuned for the Fed feeding frenzy on these public servants who disgraced themselves.

    1. Mia says:

      College is party time I have kids of my own I know what happens when they are away who know the old saying while you are away the mice will play. I have seen many things when I worked in the Emergency Room for 20 years,. Kids do the darnest things but you need to teach them from the beginning what iis right and wrong. But I still believe that this should not of happened.

      1. Don says:


        I’m sure you’ve seen a lot in your line of work, but we can’t assume this is what happened in this case. No evidence that this was a factor at all in this tragedy and as you said it never should have happened.

  21. Mia says:

    I understant what you are saying Don.

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