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DA: Charges dropped for students arrested after teammate killed by cop

From Deborah Brunswick, CNN
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Charges dismissed against Pace students
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four Pace University students were arrested in October after a teammate was shot
  • A police officer shot the teammate while breaking up a brawl
  • No charges were filed against the officer
  • The district attorney agrees with dismissal of charges for the students
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(CNN) -- A New York state judge dismissed all charges Thursday against four Pace University football players who were arrested after a teammate was killed by a police officer, according to the Westchester County district attorney's office.

The four students were arrested October 17 in the chaos that ensued after police shot 20-year old Danroy "D.J" Henry, of Easton, Massachusetts, outside a bar in Thornwood, New York.

Joseph Garcia, Yves Delpeche, Daniel Parker and Joseph Romanick had been charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction and criminal mischief, but prosecutors ruled their actions were a result of "youthful visceral reactions to the sudden, unexpected shooting of their friend."

"This is a big weight off of our shoulders," Romanick, 22, said at press conference Thursday morning. "But nothing will take away the loss that we feel from D.J. We think about him all the time."

Last month, a grand jury cleared the officer who shot Henry of any wrongdoing. Two weeks ago, prosecutors moved to dismiss charges against the teammates.

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Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said she agreed with the judge's decision.

"Given the unique and extraordinary circumstances that unfolded that morning, the spirit of justice was served with the dismissal of the charges," DiFiore said in statement.

According to police, the shooting occurred after a police officer came across "a large group of unruly patrons" brawling in front of Finnegan's Grill in Thornwood -- a New York suburb -- and called for support.

Officers were breaking up fights, police said, when "a vehicle parked in the fire lane" accelerated. A police officer tried to stop the vehicle, which Henry was driving, but its mirror struck the officer and the officer "ended up on the hood," said police.

The officer on the hood shot at the driver.

The players' attorney, Bonita Zelman, said she planned to move forward in filing a civil lawsuit against Westchester County as well as police officers involved in the incident.