Evidence release OK'd in athlete's death

March 8, 2012

Almost all the evidence gathered in the fatal police shooting of a college football player can be made public, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

A lawyer who represents the student's family said immediately afterward that he plans to release a large amount of material as soon as he can organize it. He said the evidence includes video, 911 calls, police communications and ''hundreds of witness statements.''

The ruling by Magistrate Judge George Yanthis came in a lawsuit filed by the parents of Pace University football player Danroy Henry Jr. of Easton, Mass.

Henry, 20, was shot and killed as he drove away from a disturbance that spilled out of a bar in Thornwood, N.Y., after the Pace University homecoming game on Oct. 17, 2010.


A Pleasantville policeman, Aaron Hess, said he was hit by Henry's car and thrown onto the hood and had to shoot through the windshield to stop the driver.

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

A grand jury found Hess had not committed a crime; the family then filed the civil case.

The family lawyer, Michael Sussman, said Thursday's ruling was ''a great victory for the right to know.'' Henry's father, Danroy Henry Sr., called it ''a step in the right direction.''

''There's no victory for us here,'' he added. ''The only victory would be D.J. coming home.''

Sussman said there is no known video that shows the shooting. But he said the evidence released would support the family's claim that ''the shooting lacked any possible justification.''

A spokesman for Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, who led the criminal investigation, said she would not comment on the civil case.

The Henrys' lawsuit against Hess and Pleasantville has been combined with several others, including suits filed by other Pace students who claimed they were brutalized by Mount Pleasant police as they tried to help Henry. Criminal cases against the students were dropped last year.

Attorney Drew Sumner, representing Mount Pleasant, unsuccessfully argued that witness statements should be withheld from the public unless the witnesses themselves make them available.