Pleasantville, NY settled a civil suit with the family of DJ Henry for the fatal police shooting of their 20-year-old son for $6 million this week, but the officer who killed him was never fired or charged with a crime, despite inconsistencies in his story of what occurred and shocking accounts of his actions, even from other officers. In fact, a year after killing the unarmed, innocent student, the cop was named Officer Of The Year by his police union.
On October 10, 2010, Pace University junior and football player, DJ Henry was killed outside a Mount Pleasant restaurant after police had been called to break up a homecoming party. Police said officers ordered Henry to move his car. Upon following their request, a cop stepped in front of Henry’s car, striking the officer. Officer Aaron Hess immediately fired at the driver’s seat killing Henry.
After a grand jury failed to indict the officer, Henry’s family sued both the police department and the Town of Mount Pleasant. During the investigation, witnesses claimed Officer Hess jumped on the hood of the car and began firing, countering the claim he was struck. Investigators also found that Henry was braking when Hess jumped on the car. Even the chief of police later disclosed that witnessing officers believed Henry was the one under attack, not Hess.
The federal grand jury cleared Hess of wrongdoing in April 2015 on the basis that the officer’s actions did not meet “exacting standard of criminal intent required” to prove it he intentionally violated Henry’s civil rights with racial bias.
DJ Henry’s family released a statement after the settlement reading, “The Henrys have been clear from the beginning that no monetary settlement could ever replace the deep loss of their beloved son D.J. While this aspect of their lawsuit has now been resolved, they will continue to deal with their deep loss by focusing on faith, family, and the important work of the DJ Henry Dream Fund, which has provided opportunities for thousands of young people and will continue to do so.”
Henry’s family is still pursuing their lawsuit against Mount Pleasant claiming the town failed to treat Henry’s injuries and left him handcuffed and bleeding on the ground. The family’s attorney says Officer Hess had “no basis to shoot” the college athlete.
Angela Henry, the victim’s mother, said, “This is the only recourse we had left and it doesn’t make us happy in any way, it actually just reminds us that, this is all that we had to do. [DJ] did everything he could for people around him and still to this day I get messages from people telling me how he impacted their lives, how he did wonderful things for them and that’s the memory that we hold onto every day, those good things.”
Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer told reporters Monday, “We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved to bring closure to this tragic story. Related litigation is ongoing and consequently no further public comment will be made at this time.”