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Thousands Demand Justice 10 Years After College Athlete Shot, Killed By Cop In Westchester

Danroy “DJ” Henry
Danroy “DJ” Henry Photo Credit:

The cacophony of thousands of voices demanding justice for Danroy “DJ” Henry has grown to include some celebrities 10 years after he was killed at the hands of police in Westchester.

Nearly 80,000 people have signed a petition urging prosecutors to re-open Henry’s case after he was shot and killed by former Pleasantville police officer Aaron Hess in October 2010.

Henry, a football player and junior at Pace University's Pleasantville campus, was at a sports bar with teammates when a fight broke out after their homecoming game in Pleasantville.

Hess remained at the scene, and when Henry was instructed to move his vehicle out of a fire zone, the former police officer alleged that it had struck him, he landed on the hood of the car, and he opened fire. Paramedics responded to the scene to treat Hess for a leg injury while Henry bled out on the pavement.

Hess was not charged with any crime and was named Officer of the Year later on in the year.

In 2016, Henry's family accepted a $6 million settlement from Hess and the town of Mount Pleasant. Town officials at the time admitted that "statements made by its officials in the hours after the incident caused additional pain to the Henry family.” Another teammate was awarded $150,000 in a separate case.

“Hess deliberately killed DJ. DJ was a bright student with a bright future and he deserved better than this,” organizers of the petition said. “We are demanding that this case be re-opened and we demand that Aaron Hess be charged with the murder of Danroy Henry.”

Nearly a decade after his death, a group of prominent celebrities sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, calling on him to reopen the case or at least even engage in a “cursory review of the fact pattern of what occurred distills more questions than answers.”

The letter was signed by celebrities such as Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, Pharrell, Charlize Theron, Taraji Henson, former New York Gian Odell Beckham, Jr., Michael K. Williams, and Kerry Washington.”

“The DOJ must truthfully determine whether a pattern and/or practice of discrimination played a role in the case of DJ Henry — and if it did — deliver the justice that restores this young man’s name and reputation, while giving hope to other young black men who are just like him and desperate for change,” the letter states. “The facts support this request, the law all but require it, and justice — it demands it.”

The letter concludes by urging Barr to reopen the case and “probe the wrongful death.”

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