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Gunned Down: Police kill rising football star

Amity Paye | 4/12/2011, 5:27 p.m.

Danroy "D.J." Henry's coach called the wide receiver a tremendous athlete whose abilities were enhanced by his unbelievable work ethic, making him one of the best players on the his college football team at Pace University. Others remarked on how fun he was to just be around. The senior captain on his team, Jason Washington, called him a "tremendous human being" who "always did the right thing."

But on Sunday night, just after playing in Pace's homecoming game, the 20-year-old's life was cut short. Parked in the fire lane outside a Mount Pleasant bar, a Westchester police officer tapped on his car window, and as Henry attempted to move the vehicle, police fired on him. A passenger was hit, while the young athlete joined the scores of young Black men killed by police.

The Mount Pleasant Police Department issued a press release on Sunday claiming that when a police officer tapped on Henry's car window, he sped off, hitting a second officer, Aaron Hess, who attempted to stop Henry's vehicle, which pushed him onto the hood of the car. The statement continues to say that as the car continued to accelerate, the officer on the hood of the car began firing at Henry, as did Ronald Beckley, a third officer in the path of the car.

Two people, Henry and his friend Brandon Cox, who was riding in the passenger seat, were shot. Henry was pronounced dead later that night at the hospital.

"The press release was released on Sunday," said Mount Pleasant Police Chief Lewis Alagno on Tuesday. "It is still basically accurate as we know it, but it is subject to change."

It is subject to change because as Henry's father, Danroy Henry Sr., told the Brockton Enterprise of Massachusetts on Sunday, "A lot of witnesses disagree with the preliminary police account."

When told the police's official story of what happened in an interview with CNN, Cox's mother, Donna Parks, said, "Absolutely not. What happened was that the police officer with a gun drawn jumped out in front of the car and D.J. did not have time to stop, and he hit the officer and they started firing...They pulled D.J. out of the car, handcuffed him and then left him there on the ground for 15 to 20 minutes."

Cox's mother also said her son remembered hearing eight gun shots and seeing that Henry was placed face down, bleeding on the pavement, as police attended to the officer who was hit by Henry's car.

This story is reminiscent of Omar Edwards, the Black NYPD officer who a white cop mistook for a criminal and was shot three times then handcuffed while police circled him without rendering aid in Harlem last year.

Graham Weatherspoon, a retired police detective and co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, said, "If the individual is an alleged suspect, they would be handcuffed. It is very unreasonable if the person has already been shot. If the person has interacted with an officer, they are handcuffed, but they should receive medical care before the EMS can arrive."