Danroy Henry Sr., the father of Pace University student DJ Henry, who was shot and killed by Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess in New York in 2010, released a YouTube video Monday night expressing his views regarding materials recently made available to the public.
He said the materials, which include audio, dash cam videos, and testimony from witnesses, should be viewed in the context of an investigative process which Henry called "flawed."
"What we hope folks will do is keep in context the source of this information," he said in the video. "This was gathered, we think, with some bias, because it was gathered through an investigative process that we have already said on record, we think was flawed."
"...It doesn’t mean all of it is untrue," he continued. "It just means that we have to believe that there are omissions here and there were likely things gathered with some prejudice, given that they were thinking about trying to present a version of the story – not the absolute truth, but a version of the story so they were bias towards that version of the story."
Henry said that there were still "instructive" materials that were released Monday. Specifically, he pointed to the police report given by Lieutenant Brian Fanelli of the Mount Pleasant Police Department.
Fanelli's narrative describes his interaction with Mount Pleasant Police Officer Ronald Beckley shortly after the incident occurred. In addition to Hess, Beckley also fired his weapon during the incident. Henry said that because Beckley fired his gun as a result of hearing gunshots, the only threat at the time was the threat of Hess.
In the report, Fanelli writes the following:
Police Officer Ronald Beckley advised me that he fired his duty weapon during the disturbance at Finnergan's. I asked PO Ronald Beckley what happened and he stated the following; He arrived at the Town Center in his patrol car and that as he exited his vehicle he stood momentarily outside of his driver's door when he heard what he believed to be gun shots corning from close proximity. Officer Beckley stated that he looked up and saw a car coming at him at a high rate of speed. He saw a person who was dressed in dark clothing on the hood of the vehicle which was approaching him. Officer Beckley stated that he believed that the gun shots were coming from the person on the hood of the vehicle. Officer Beckley stated that he believed he was going to be killed by the vehicle and that he drew his weapon and fired at the car. Officer Beckley continued by saying that he doesn't know how he made it out alive and that he believed he had shot the person on the hood of the vehicle. It wasn't until after the car stopped that he realized that the person he thought he had shot at was Police Officer Arran Hess of the Pleasantville Police Department.
Fanelli's report continues to describe Beckley as being "in obvious shock" after the incident and afraid that he had shot Hess. Fanelli called the hospital to assure Beckley that Hess' injuries were because he had been hit by the car and not because he had been shot (To view the full report, click on the attached .pdf.)
For Henry, Beckley's description of the incident proved that Hess' motives were unjustified.
"His decision then, was to shoot the shooter; not the driver of the car, not someone who was involved in reckless behavior," Henry said. "He was attempting to shoot the shooter – we have to believe because he was thinking 'why would anybody be shooting right now – there’s no reason for anyone to be shooting’
"So, it seems to run counter to what Aaron Hess has claimed was the justification for DJ’s shooting. And so, if the use of deadly force isn’t supported by justification, then it’s unjustified. By definition, the unjustified taking of a human life is murder."
To view all of the released materials, click here. Check back with Patch for more on this case.