Former Iona student Danroy Henry killed by police

Richard GiacovasStaff Writer

2,000 people gathered in Boston on Oct. 30 to remember Danroy “D.J.” Henry on what would have been his 21st birthday.  The Pace University student, who attended Iona his freshman year, was shot by police who were responding to a concern at the bar Finnegan’s Grill in Thornwood, N.Y. on Oct. 17.

Henry, along with a group of friends, was celebrating the team’s homecoming.  Police said an officer knocked on the front car windshield of Henry’s silver Nissan asking him to move his car out of a fire lane.  He then put his foot on the gas and accelerated the vehicle striking two officers responding to the disturbance, according to police. This prompted the one of the officers to fire. 

The officers were Aaron Hess, a former New York City policeman, and Ronald Beckley, a 30-year veteran of the force.  Passengers tell a different story. They say that Henry was trying to move his car out of the fire lane and was not a threat to police.

According to law enforcement officials, Henry’s blood alcohol level at the time of the incident was above the legal limit to drive.  The attorney for Henry’s family, Michael Sussman, is questioning that and is in the process of conducting several blood tests.

Sussman also said that the police officer involved in the incident was not in harm’s way when he shot at Henry because ballistics tests showed that the angle of the shots into the hood of the car came from the side.  This would have put the officer next to the vehicle, not in front. 

Two suspects and four police officers were taken to Westchester Medical Center that night.  Two officers were treated for physical injuries and trauma.  The second passenger Brandon Cox, 20, suffered a minor gunshot wound and the third passenger Desmond Hines, 21, was unhurt. 

The Westchester County District Attorney’s office has declined comment because the investigation is still ongoing. 

Pace University canceled their football game that was set for Oct. 23.  “It’s not appropriate for our student athletes to play Saturday’s game,” said athletic director Joseph O’Donnell.

Henry, a business management major from North Eastern, Mass. wanted to just play football, says his high school football coach, Jim Artz.  He began his college career at Iona, but after Iona canceled its football program, Henry transferred to Pace.  Even though Iona was not a big football school, it gave Henry the chance to play and that was all he could ask for.

The 2,000 people that attended the memorial service at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center included Henry’s childhood friends, football teammates, and classmates from Pace.  U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was also in attendance.

Speakers at the service asked the audience to honor Henry by living life to the fullest.

“There is no cure for how you feel, but there is a treatment for dealing with it.  You must find a way to pick up where D.J. left off and promise to do all he would have done with his life,” said Pace University coach Chris Dapolito.

Henry’s mother, Angella Henry, told the crowd that she would continue to seek justice with the help of everyone.  “As we continue to fight for the truth, we will continue to need your love and support,” she said.

His father said that the family still needs to feel his presence everywhere they go. “That’s what sustains us now,” he said.

 “Even though he didn’t want to have a big 21st birthday, he’s going to,” he said.

State police and Westchester County crime scene experts continue to investigate DJ’s death.