DJ Henry's Family Files New Lawsuit

The complaint alleges that police officers Kevin Gilmartin and Ronald Gagnon neither checked on or sought treatment for the Pace student who had just been shot by Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess.

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."

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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.

Dan October 10, 2012 at 09:56 PM
What's the problem with these people the police have done nothing wrong that has been proved already let it go its not going to bring your son back
jjinla October 11, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Good lord, will these people ever stop? Your son was drunk and drove into a police officer that told him to stop. This family, the son of the crazy knife-wilding ex-Marine (Chamberlain?), and the husband of Dianne Schuler are so far in denial it isn't funny. But it needs to stop. The state of NY should be able to countersue at a certain point.
SPK October 11, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Sadly, the family will go away only when paid by the town's insurance company to go aware. Their attorney, well known in these cases, smells $$$s, and will collect maybe half. How our system works and encourages this misjustice. Two cents,
m October 11, 2012 at 08:17 AM
This is the saddest story to come out of Westchester. I hope the police officers' guilty conscience continue to hunt them for the rest of their lives.
m October 11, 2012 at 08:20 AM
Sadly a life was lost...senselessly at the careless hands of a corrupt police team.
m October 11, 2012 at 08:23 AM
Really? If it had happened to your son or sibling, I hope you would want to go away also. The cops will pay with their guilty conscience. It will continue to hunt the killer for THE REST OF HIS LIFE. I hope he has a very long one.
JJ October 11, 2012 at 09:25 AM
@ m............."Sadly a life was lost...senselessly at the careless hands of a corrupt police team." If you were there and have additional information other than the fact that this young man was DUI (Proven in court records), driving a vehicle that his "friends" allowed him to drive ; despite the fact that he was intoxicated (Proven in court records), purchased alcohol with a false ID (Proven in court records) , failed to follow a police officer's directions (Proven in court records) and injured a police officer while DUI (Proven in court records) we'd all like to hear it. This is truly tragic event made worse by people turning into a cottage industry of hate and accusations. All these lives were ruined by pi** poor judgement and alcohol.
Cadeyrn October 11, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Nothing good ever comes from college kids, booze and cars.
Tommy Li October 11, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Well,it's very good.I quite agree with your point of view. http://www.watchesreplica001.com
NorthCountyHound October 11, 2012 at 03:32 PM
If you are any good at football, you don't go to Pace. Presenting this loser in a uniform is an insult to real football players.
Mike A October 11, 2012 at 03:33 PM
the parents smell $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ they dont care about there son who screwed up and tried to run over a police officer the way the parents are acting there sons life was all for nothing but $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ these people should burn in HELL
m October 11, 2012 at 03:54 PM
If it was my son, I would sue the beJesus out of all of them and more.
m October 11, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Obviously the son is not coming back, but like many other people including Ron Goldman's dad, they sue especially when the criminals, low life police officers, murderers, are not found guilty by a flawed system.
joshua tanner October 11, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I won't even pretend to know the truth about this case but the kids parents seem like decent and intelligent people who I'm sure would rather have their son back than have money from a suit. Very few parents are that low. Lawyers on the other hand ..
m October 11, 2012 at 04:42 PM
The great thing about the wrongful death lawsuit is that the murderer will be found guilty, in a case like this it should be guaranteed, even though the criminal case was flawed. This will bring some closure for the parents and the money is not bad either. No amount of money can bring back a loved one, but in cases like this, it is more about getting justice for the kid. If I were on their shoe. I would have pursued this relentlessly. I have 2 sons, so I can totally relate.
Aidan October 11, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Geez, JJ ... stop with common sense.
Aidan October 11, 2012 at 09:37 PM
So, your sons are perfect? Not mine. Where'd you get this "wrongful death" line? Filch it from some biased writer? Isn't there anymore culpability at all? Isn't anyone responsible for anything anymore?
RHH October 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Officer Hess pulls into a parking lot in response to a call from the bar. If you listen to the police dispatch calls you will hear officers state there were no fights in progress when they arrived. The reason the police were there was to disperse the crowd, one officer raps on the window of the Henry car and tells him to move. Danroy starts to move the car reason Officer Hess decides to stop the car by jumping in front of it and later on it according to testimony with his weapon drawn. Shots were fired killing Danroy. We are learning from the dispositions there are several "disagreements" between the official version and the sworn testimony - a life was needlessly lost. Let the trail begin - we all deserve the truth
Joe Taxpayer October 13, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Chris Clement October 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM
1) Everything in life isn't black or white; often there are gray areas. We have courts to settle differences; appears to be differences between original reports and pre-trial hearings. 2) If my child was shot/killed I'd want to know WHY, and under circumstances that are truthful. I'd want the facts. 3) Being a P.O.is sometimes difficult, but they too must be held responsible for their actions. 4) Losing a child is horrendous; no one should judge the parents until they've walked in their shoes. 5) Am 100% CERTAIN parents would prefer to have DJ alive than get money.
C Gajowski October 15, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Chris - the best summary of this tragedy here. I know a lot of people who survived to middle and old age despite doing stupid things as a kid. It looks as if both this young man and the young officer made mistakes. That the young man and friends were drinking and driving under the influence wasn't something known until AFTER he was dead. I suspect the group was panicky because they thought they would be caught for drinking illegally. It is pretty easy to imagine not understanding whatever the officer said or gestured as well.[ I remember an officer in Middletown, CT, who shot into a car because he wanted it to stop - with a family in it - the driver said they thought he was signaling them to move on] Why a gun was drawn and fired in these circumstances ( to stop a car full of people not known to be engaged in a crime?) is unanswered. Is this a good or usual practice? The officer may have made a mistake, too. It's not about good guys and bad guys: it seems to be about confusion, bad judgments made in a split second, and the aftermath.
Lanning Taliaferro (Editor) October 15, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Hi, RHH. The initial police report said that Officer Hess, who was not in his own jurisdiction, noticed the crowd outside the bar and called Mount Pleasant police. We'll check for you to see if there was more added to the official report of the start of the incident.
jjinla October 15, 2012 at 05:27 PM
What important parts? Every jury that has looked at this case has dismissed any charges against the police officer. But the parents will persist because their lawyer is free. That is the problem with our legal system as it relates to personal injuries. The absolute bottom of the barrel of the legal profession take up PI law and do it on a contingency basis because they know that a decent amount of people settle to make them go away. Defendants need more leeway to countersue for legal costs, and punitive damages should only go to a fund to help the greater good. If they lost their son because of his own stupidity (and YES, but for the fact he was being an idiot he would be alive today) they shouldn't become millionaires over it.
m October 16, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Adrian, thank you for your comments. So very well articulated. I do have sons who just happen to be black, one is 7 and the other is 6 weeks old. I would hate for something like this to happen to them. I am not saying that the actions were racially motivated, but ou look at patterns and to be on the side of caution, you start talking to our children at a very young age how to act when you are stopped by the police while driving black or Latino. The fact that they did not seek medical attention for him immediately is down right uncivilized and hopefully the wrongful death suit will bring closure to the family. No amount of money can bring their son back, but this will bring some time of solace. Even for people like myself, a 13 Westchster resident, who just want to see justice served.
Liz October 18, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I don't think this is about $ or bringing their son back.It's about justice &consequences for the ppl responsible,in this case the PoliceOfficers.These are the ppl we entrust to protect our families and neighborhood.The public deserves to know what happened &ensure that this doesnt happen to anyone else's family.Of course we as the public acknowledge a P.Os job is dangerous &we give them the authority to carry weapons &enforce the law,at the end of the day they are ppl too &they can make mistakes &poor choices just like the rest of us.My opinion this is about justice &prevention.If something like this was to happen again?Everyone would be wondering why it wasn't properly addressed the first time.We need to use tragic events as learn/teaching tools for the future to implement increased training for P.Os or whatever may be necessary. To compare the judgement of an alcohol impaired collegecoed to the judgement of a formally trained police officer who is assumingly of sound and sober mind is absurd! Similiarly to the individual who has the nerve to bring up the death of the mentallyill Marine whom was shot by the police. The police had an hour stand off with this gentlemen who they knew had mental issues, why didnt they bring in a professional equipped to deal with his issues instead of using brute force?Just because you have a badge/gun does not mean you use the best judgement all the time and as the public it is our responsibility to maintain checks & balances in our society.
RHH October 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
jjinia - this case was never presented to a jury. The DA failed to get an indictment, we later learned that key witnesses were never called to testify in front of the Grand Jury. This does not mean that Officer Hess is(was) innocent. The DA did the community a disservice by failing to get an indictment so all the facts would be made public. One thing that this article fails to mention is the police chief held a press conference shortly after this tragedy claiming that Danroy received medical help within two to three minutes.... we now know this to be false. The police had the dashboard cam, it clearly shows Danroy was left unattended. We now know the chief misspoke The video is available on the web. You may not want to watch it, it will break your heart. The emts and the officers who were trained as first responders failed to act professionally I have yet to read of any review by the public safety officials of the actions of the police and emts that night and what could have been done differently


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