What Really Happened on Oct. 17, 2010?

By Phillip Martin

Mar. 13, 2012

At 7:00 p.m. on "Greater Boston": Danroy Henry Sr. reacts to the new information.

BOSTON — More previously classified documents have been published relative to the police killing of an Easton, Mass. college student in October 2010 in a New York suburb. The first batch provides a mixed, indeed contradictory picture of what happened. 

From the beginning, the Pleasantville and Mt. Pleasant, N.Y., police departments claimed Danroy "DJ" Henry Jr., 20, tried to run down officer Aaron Hess in a strip mall parking lot. The witness statements were compiled by the police and the evidence was presented to a New York grand jury last year, which chose not to indict Hess and officer Ronald Beckley. Lawyers for the Henry family have questioned the diligence in which the Westchester County defense attorney's office presented this case to the grand jury.

This, again, is how the case began: Police were called to the bar after a fight broke out between a bouncer and a patron on Oct. 17, 2010. By all accounts, the disturbance had nothing to do with Henry and his four friends. The owner of the bar called for everyone to get out. Henry, the designated driver, went to the parking lot to retrieve his car and pulled into a fire lane in front of the bar. 

From there, the accounts splinter.

The official police interview with Brandon Cox is part of the documents released this week. According to the police transcript, a police officer tapped on the window; as Henry drove out of the fire lane, an officer jumped out in front of the car, drew his gun and fired. Read the interview.

In a document made public this week, a policeman who responded to the scene and who said he grew up with Hess, signed a witness statement that reads, "I then saw Officer Aaron Hess step out in the road and put his left hand up and his right hand on his gun as the Altima was coming towards him. I also heard Officer Cox yell at least three times for the car to stop. I then heard the Altima accelerating as it approached Officer Hess. There's no way the driver did not see Officer Hess."

But in the police interview, Cox said the car's windows were fogged up by condensation. Yet another deposition, by a witness named Robert Coulombe, said that Henry's "driving posed no imminent danger."

> > Read Coulombe's version of events.

In a press briefing with reporters on Monday, Michael Sussman, the attorney for the family, disputed the characterization of who struck whom, saying that Hess jumped out in front of the car. In addition, one statement by Beckley seemed to say that he considered the primary threat to be the shooter, not the driver.

The documents include a video showing Henry, handcuffed and seriously injured, lying face down on the street. According to the attorney's caption, “although told by the EMT initially that DJ had expired, a police officer eventually checks DJ, and realizes that he is seriously wounded and still alive. Treatment begins only at that point."

Adding to the confusion was police chatter, captured in audio released Monday, that mischaracterized the police emergency. It was Henry who lay dying on the ground from gun shot wounds. The officer down was Hess resulting from coming in contact with the car. 

Lawyers for the Henry family say they will post more documents, including 911 calls, over the next few days. Read the documents.

Read the police interview with Brandon Cox

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