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Racist : Many Questions on Killing of Pace Student by Police

An image of Danroy Henry Jr. from the Pace University football Web site.


It was the homecoming game, and a reunion of sorts for two childhood friends on the opposing teams. Danroy Henry Jr. was a junior defensive back for the home team, Pace University, in Pleasantville, N.Y. Everyone called him D.J.



Erik Jacobs for The New York Times

Brandon Cox and his mother, Donna, in South Easton, Mass.


Brandon Cox was a running back for the visitors, Stonehill College of Easton, Mass. The two 20-year-olds had been teammates at Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, where their coach called them inseparable. And though Stonehill drubbed Pace on Saturday, 27-0, that was no reason not to get together for some postgame fun at a Westchester County restaurant near campus.

Within hours, Mr. Henry lay fatally wounded in the front seat of a car riddled by police bullets, and Mr. Cox was injured, in a shooting that has mystified people who were close to the young men.

“They were just a joy to be around, never in any trouble,” said Jim Artz, their high school coach. “If my sons grew up to be like these two, I would have been very happy.”

The State Police and the Westchester County district attorney’s office said on Monday that they would join the investigation into the shooting, which involved Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant police officers.

According to the Mount Pleasant police, officers were trying to subdue an unruly crowd around 1 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot outside Finnegan’s Grill, a popular student hangout in Thornwood, about two miles from the Pace campus and about 33 miles north of New York City.

One of the officers approached a car that was parked in the fire lane, where Mr. Henry sat in the driver’s seat. Mr. Cox was in the passenger seat, and a third football player, Desmond Hinds, a senior wide receiver at Pace, was in the back.

When the officer knocked on the window, Mr. Henry tried to speed away, striking one officer and pinning another against the hood, the police said. The officer clinging to the hood then pulled out his gun and fired into the car. Another officer also fired into the car, which crashed into a parked police car and came to a stop.

At an impromptu news conference outside their upper-middle-class home in South Easton, about 30 miles south of Boston, Mr. Cox’s family gave a starkly different version of the shooting.

“They thought the police were asking them to move out of the fire lane,” Thomas Parks, Mr. Cox’s stepfather, said. “The next thing you know there’s a police officer jumping from behind a car and he starts shooting.”

Mr. Cox, who was grazed in the shoulder and wore a hooded sweat shirt covering the bandages as he joined Mr. Parks, said he was “devastated” by the loss of his friend, but did not discuss the shooting in detail.

“We did not do anything to deserve this,” he said. “In my mind, what went on, there was no need for any of that.”

The officer who fired from the hood was identified as Aaron Hess, a former New York City police officer who has been with the Pleasantville police since 2003. The other officer who fired was identified as Ronald Beckley, a 30-year veteran of the Mount Pleasant police. Both were in uniform at the time, the police said. It was unclear on Monday how many shots were fired at the car and how many bullets struck Mr. Henry.

No one has been charged in the case. The officers, who suffered minor injuries, have been placed on administrative duties.

Janet DiFiore, the Westchester district attorney, said the investigation would be “detailed, thorough and complete,” and would include many witness interviews and a review of video surveillance.

Mr. Henry’s parents, who had traveled from Massachusetts along with Mr. Cox’s parents to watch the game on Saturday, did not return calls seeking comment on Monday. The families had met for pizza before the game.

A message on the Henrys’ voice mail on Monday said the family needed some time alone and asked supporters to “tell every single person how much influence Danroy had on you, or the good person he was, and just let everybody know he’s not the kind of person they’re going to try to make him out to be.”

At Mount Pleasant police headquarters, Police Chief Louis Alagno had a pained expression as he greeted visitors on Monday. On his office wall was a classic Norman Rockwell print of an officer at a counter talking with a little boy. The picture could have been ripped from a scene out of Mount Pleasant, where, the chief said he believed, no officer had fired a weapon in the line of duty since the early 1980s.

“This is devastating,” Chief Alagno said. “Just about every officer that was on the scene is truly devastated.”

The chief said he met with Mr. Henry’s father, mother and two younger siblings on Sunday. “They are a beautiful family,” he said. Mr. Henry’s father, he said, “was much more composed than I would have been under the circumstances.”

Resource from: http://www.nytimes.com

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