Skip to main content

Parents of gunned-down student file wrongful death suit

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The parents of Danroy "D.J." Henry have filed a wrongful death suit following their son's death
  • Aaron Hess fatally shot Henry outside a bar at a shopping center in Thornwood, New York
  • The announcement comes one week after Hess was honored by the Pleasantville Police Benevolent Association
  • In February, a Westchester County grand jury refused to indict Hess in Henry's death

New York (CNN) -- The parents of Danroy "D.J." Henry have filed a wrongful death suit against a New York police officer who shot and killed the 20-year-old last year, their attorney said in a statement Wednesday.

Danroy Sr. and Angella Henry are also suing the village of Pleasantville where police officer Aaron Hess works, calling it culpable in the October 17 incident.

"From the investigation the family has conducted, it is apparent that others acted in grossly irresponsible manners," the statement said. "These parties should be held accountable for their failures."

The statement comes one week after Hess was honored by the Pleasantville Police Benevolent Association.

The award expressed support "for the dignified and professional manner in which Officer Hess has conducted himself throughout this ordeal," the union said.

Hess fatally shot Henry, of Easton, Massachusetts, who was attending Pace University, outside a bar at a shopping center in Thornwood, New York.

The incident occurred after a police officer came across "a large group of unruly patrons" brawling in front of Finnegan's Grill in Thornwood and called for backup, according to a police statement issued shortly after the shooting.

Some 50 police officers responded to the brawl. 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 him and the officer ended up on the hood, police said.

The officer on the hood shot at the driver, but the vehicle continued in the fire lane in the direction of another officer. That officer also fired at the vehicle, according to the police statement.

"The Henry family is in this for the long haul," said attorney Michael Sussman. "They're not going to be deterred by this insult."

In February, a Westchester County grand jury refused to indict Hess in Henry's death.

Henry's father, Danroy Henry Sr., told CNN at the time the youth's family believes the grand jurors heard faulty evidence.

"The presentation of the evidence and the facts was absolutely ineffective, based on what we know to be the truth, given our own investigation," he said.

An attorney for Hess released a statement in February that said in part, "the tragedy of D.J. Henry's death cannot and should not be distorted to pursue an agenda which ignores the sad and painful truth that a 20-year-old man who by all accounts was a good and decent human being made very, very poor decisions that night and morning that brought about his own death."

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the case.