A second lawsuit against police officers who responded to reports of a crowd outside a Thornwood bar and shot a Pace University student will be filed in federal court Oct. 12.
Aaron Hess, a Pleasantville police officer, killed D.J. Henry on Oct. 17, 2010, shooting him from the hood of Henry's car as Henry was driving. He was not indicted by a Westchester County Grand Jury; the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating.
Michael Sussman, attorney for the Henry family, said the story coming out through depositions for the first lawsuit, which was filed against Hess and his employer the village of Pleasantville, drew a very different picture than that described by police after the shooting.
The new complaint, which also names the Town of Mount Pleasant, includes information from depositions by Mount Pleasant police officers Ronald Gagnon and Kevin Gilmartin. According to their descriptions of events, after Hess had shot three times at Henry, Gagnon and Gilmartin went to Henry's car. Henry was breathing and conscious, according to the lawsuit.
Gagnon cuffed Henry while Gilmartin held him by his right arm and shoulder, then they put him face down on the ground.
"In light of what they had seen and heard, they knew he had been shot," the lawsuit alleges.
Neither called for urgent medical attention, nor did Gilmartin—a trained paramedic—check on the college junior.
"To my way of thinking...that sequence of events contributed to the demise of Mr. Henry," Sussman said in a phone press conference Wednesday, calling Gagnon's and Gilmartin's inaction "simply so reckless and so inexcusable that they must face consequences in a federal court."
Last week Sussman released the deposition of Mount Pleasant Police Officer Ronald Beckley, the second officer to fire his weapon that night. Beckley said during his deposition in federal court that he fired his gun to stop Hess, whom he saw on the hood of Henry's car, did not know was an officer and felt was the "aggressor."
"I was shooting at a person that I thought was the aggressor and was inflicting deadly physical force on another," Beckley said.
Hess' attorney, Brian Sokoloff, criticized Sussman last week for releasing Beckley's deposition, calling the move premature.
According to police statements after the incident, Hess was injured when Henry hit him with his car.
According to Beckley's deposition, Beckley believed he had shot Hess.
Hess has been out on medical leave since the incident. Sussman said today that Hess's medical records have been made confidential by his attorneys.
Sussman said he expected the second suit to be merged with the first, but that it had to be filed before the two-year limitation on wrongful death lawsuits runs out.
Read about the police press conference after the shooting here. Read about the initial police description of the incident here.