Lawyer: No gunpowder evidence in NY cop shooting

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 7:55 PM
Lawyer: No gunpowder evidence in NY cop shooting

A lawyer for the family of a college football player who was shot to death in his car by police said Wednesday that any gunpowder evidence was gone by the time forensic experts saw the vehicle.

Police have said that one officer was on the hood of Danroy Henry's Nissan when he fired, and attorney Michael Sussman said gunpowder evidence could have been used to determine the distance from which shots were discharged.

Henry, a 20-year-old Pace University student from Easton, Mass., was killed Oct. 17 when two officers fired at his moving car after police were called to a disturbance that spilled out of a bar in Thornwood, N.Y., just north of New York City. The shooting has engendered differing accounts from police and from witnesses, many of them fellow students.

Sussman said during a phone conference Wednesday that he doesn't know if gunpowder evidence was intentionally removed. But he said the Nissan wasn't maintained properly after the shooting, "so that piece of evidence is gone."

Westchester County district attorney's office spokesman Lucian Chalfen said he wouldn't comment on an ongoing investigation.

Sussman also said no drugs or alcohol were found in the car.

He said a preliminary examination of the car indicates five bullets were fired into it _ three through the windshield, one through the driver's side window and one into the hood. He said it seems two different caliber weapons were used, possibly a 9 mm and a .40-caliber.

Sussman said the car, which crashed into a police cruiser after the shooting, has been under examination for four days at a county police facility with someone from his team on hand. A Nissan technician is being called in to recover information from a data recorder, like an airplane's black box, in the car.

Sussman said the information in the recorder "will allow us to assess speed, it will allow us to determine exactly when the impact was, whether the car sped up" after shots were fired. He said it might also help determine when the shots were fired.

Sussman said he still has not seen any autopsy results. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Friday that the level of alcohol in Henry's blood when he was autopsied was above the legal limit for driving in New York. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the autopsy report hadn't been released.

Sussman said he's skeptical of the claim about the level of alcohol and has hired an expert who will do his own examination of Henry's blood. He said that when the Nissan was opened Wednesday, there was a can of soda, a bottle of Gatorade and a toothbrush but no drugs or alcohol.

He also expressed skepticism Wednesday of a pledge he received from the office of the district attorney that her presentation of evidence to a grand jury will be "detailed, thorough and free of any conflicts."

"I do not live in a fantasy land," he said.

He said the district attorney is too close to the police departments involved in the shooting _ Mount Pleasant and Pleasantville _ and he has called for a federal investigation.

Sussman said a judge has signed an order mandating that any video and other evidence be preserved.