Last moments revealed: New reports, video released from case of slain Pace University football star Danroy Henry
Amity Paye AmNews Web Manager | 4/12/2012, 12:54 p.m.
You are behind the dashboard of a car driving through the streets.
You turn a corner and a car is stopped in the middle of the road with a flat tire. A police car with its lights flashing is stopped directly in front of you.
A white man is lying on the ground, not moving but alert. He raises his head as a woman leans over him and some of the many police walking around stoop down to speak to him.
A police officer shouts at a group of people who walk toward the police car in front of you, and the group moves back, out of view. Then the officer, assisted by another, drags a person, originally unseen behind the officer on the ground, into view. This Black man is lying on his back, unmoving in the street.
Another group of people tries to approach this man and is addressed by a police officer, then they, too, move back out of view. A young man gets close to the unmoving man and is addressed and sent away by police.
Almost three minutes into the video, the woman who was tending to the white man on the ground, a police officer, jumps up and begins to attend to the Black man lying in the background. She appears to perform CPR. Soon, many paramedics and police officers are attending to the still unmoving Black man. They lift him onto a gurney and take him away.
This video is one of two that shows Danroy Henry's last moments. It shows the disputed scene from the dashboard camera of a police car the night Henry was killed.
Henry was shot and killed by police Oct. 17, 2010, in Pleasantville, N.Y., just after playing in Pace's homecoming football game. Police said Henry had a high blood alcohol content when he sped into a police officer and almost hit another on the night of his death, but witnesses dispute this story.
After a grand jury declined to indict the police officers involved in Henry's death, the Henry family's attorney, Michael Sussman, called the case a "cover-up." Now the Henry family is asking the Justice Department and the FBI to take over the investigation of the case, saying the Pleasantville Police Department should not have been allowed to investigate itself.
While prosecutors originally said, in November, that the cameras in the squad cars at the scene of Henry's death were idle when he was killed, this video was eventually viewed by a grand jury in the case and has now been released to the public. The videos, along with evidence and a police report, were approved by a judge and released by the Sussman & Watkins law firm, which is now working with Henry's family in its lawsuit against the officer, Aaron Hess, who shot their son.
On March 12, Henry's father put out a video statement on the released documents, saying, "What we hope people will do is keep in context the source of this information. This was gathered, we think, with some bias because it was gathered through an investigative process we have already said we think is flawed."
He said that in the reports, you can see Ronald Beckley, the second police officer to fire shots on the night of Henry's death, explain that he did not shoot until he heard gun shots, showing that Beckley did not perceive Henry as a threat until Hess began shooting. "If the use of deadly force isn't supported by justification, then it's unjustified by definition. The unjustified taking of somebody's life is murder. We hope the Department of Justice will act on this."
The Henry family's civil case is expected to be back in court next month.