Lawsuit against police officer in killing of Pace athlete

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2011 5:09 PM
Lawsuit against police officer in killing of Pace athlete

By Aman Ali

New York (Reuters) - The family of a Pace University football player killed by police during a late night bar fight filed a $120 million lawsuit on Wednesday against the officer who fatally shot him.

Danroy Henry Jr., 20, was shot by two officers after a rowdy crowd of mostly college students from Pace were removed from a bar in Mount Pleasant last fall.

Prosecutors decided not to file charges against Pleasantville Officer Aaron Hess and Mount Pleasant Officer Ronald Beckley saying there wasn't sufficient evidence to accuse them of wrongdoing.

Henry's family on Wednesday filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Hess, the officer who fatally shot the football player.

The college student's father, Danroy Henry Sr., told Reuters the civil suit will hold Hess accountable for his actions.

"We said from the beginning we didn't think that this would be investigated in a way that was fair. It wasn't prosecuted that way either," he said.

Hess's attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Henry Sr. said the lawsuit also hopes to obtain several key pieces of evidence that have not been released in the case including 911 audio tapes and surveillance footage of the area where the shots took place that night.

The shooting took place outside the parking lot of the bar which is roughly 35 miles north of New York City. Hess and Beckley both fired shots into Henry's car as the athlete was trying to drive away from the crowd that night.

The officers are white and the victim black. The U.S. Department of Justice said their investigation into whether or not the officers violated civil rights laws regarding official misconduct is ongoing.

The lawsuit also lists Pleasantville as a defendant in the lawsuit saying the municipality employed Hess and failed to reprimand him for his actions. Earlier this month, the local police union awarded Hess with its annual Officer of the Year Award.

Officials in Pleasantville could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)