Update, 6:20 p.m.:
Outside of their Easton, MA home tonight, the family of DJ Henry continued to assert the investigation conducted by the Westchester County District Attorney's office was biased and did not set out to "seek the truth."
"They weren't pursuing the truth," Angella Henry, DJ Henry's mother said. "If they were pursuing the truth, we would be standing here saying something different right now."
The family accused the DA's office of witholding evidence, including its unwillingness to allow Amber Henry, the sister of DJ Henry and sophomore at Oliver Ames High School, to testify. He said Amber Henry's interactions with her brother showed that DJ Henry was clear-headed the night he was shot by Pleasantville, NY Police Officer Aaron Hess.
"We know [evidence] was withheld," Henry's father, Danroy Henry Sr. said. "Amber was texting with him well into the night and early morning."
The Henrys, who said they never had faith in Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, said they would continue to pursue the case at the federal level. Angella Henry said her husband got the news from the District Attorney's office earlier today.
The Henrys told the press they had never set out to "blindly defend" their son. Instead, they said, they conducted their own investigation which "presented clear evidence."
"There's plenty of video that shows police officers with their guns drawn pointing them at unarmed college kids," Angella Henry said.
Angella Henry and Danroy Henry Sr. were outside of their house on Symphony Drive with Amber Henry and her brother Kyle, a senior at Oliver Ames High School. Angella, Kyle and Amber all wore Oliver Ames football jerseys with DJ Henry's number 12 printed on them.
"The fight has just begun," Angella Henry said. "We are not stopping. We will fight until we are not breathing."
Update, 5:15 p.m.:
In a press conference this evening, Danroy Henry Sr., the father of DJ Henry, and Michael Sussman, the family's attorney, addressed the press, stating they are not surprised by the grand jury ruling, which cleared two Westchester police officers of criminal action in Henry's death.
"I never believed for a second this district attorney was trying to get an indictment," said Danroy Henry Sr. "We're not clairvoyant, but no one is surprised by this."
Henry and Sussman asserted the family will continue to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to take on a separate and objective investigation into the death of DJ Henry, a college student.
"We have before noted the profound institutional interests which connect the DA's office and the local police agencies within her jurisdiction...to say they rely on each other is to say that the fetus relies upon the mother," said Sussman.
Danroy Henry Sr. said he "evidence was either withheld or mishandled during the grand jury proceedings," because, "What's the other option?"
"We're convinced because of the action of the district's attorney office," he added. "It's just fraught with opportunities for even good-intentioned people to do the wrong thing because of their own biases."
When asked why the Henrys believe the U.S. Justice Department will take the case over after months of requests, Sussman said they were told to wait until the grand jury hearing was made "out of respect" for the process and they "would not intercede until this action was completed."
Sussman said he believes the grand jury process in this case was unusual and abused to the extent that the district attorney's office conducted the detailed proceedings behind closed doors, rather than issuing an indictment and saving the majority of the evidence for a 12-person jury trial to determine the officer's innocence or guilt.
Additionally, Sussman said some evidence was left out of the grand jury proceedings purposefly, including an 80-minute tape showing the interview of one of the passenger's in DJ Henry's car with the District Attorney's office. Further, said Sussman, prior to when Danroy Henry Sr. testified before the grand jury, he was told not to speak too much about his son's character is it would "taint the grand jury."
In regards to the autopsy finding indicating Henry had alcohol in his blood, Sussman said witnesses confirmed Henry had ingested a half glass of vodka and juice around 9 p.m. on Oct. 16, but, "There's also no question it has no relevance to the case. It was introduced a long, long time ago to publicly smear this man."
"[The district attorney's office] didn't take steps to make the investigation more objective and impartial," said Henry Sr. "It's proven to be a legitimate concern today."
"All we asked for is tell us the truth," he added. "It's the very foundation of our legal system."
While Sussman acknowledged the Henrys' purposeful dismissmal of questions regarding their son's race throughout their quest for justice, he said he believes today's ruling "sends a clear message to every single parent who has a young person of color away at college" that "they should be very worried."
Going forward, the Henrys hope the Department of Justice "will take a new look at this case," according to Sussman, as well as file a civil suit as indicated by the filed against Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant last month.
Danroy Henry Sr. will address the press outside of his Easton, MA, home this evening. Check back for photos and coverage from the event.
See below for the Henry family's formal statement.
Following the announcement that of an indictment in the case of Danroy "DJ" Henry, the Pace University student who was shot to death on Oct. 17, 2010, the family released the following statement to the press:
There are no words to express our disappointment in the grand jury's decision to issue a no true bill in the case of our son's killing. While losing DJ has been tragic for our family, a compounding tragedy is the reality that this grand jury result is most certainly the result of a process not designed to tell the truth but, rather, to minimize the civil and criminal liability of agencies involved in his death.
An investigation led by a police department employing one of the officers, working very closely with the department employing our son's killer and a District Attorney DiFiorie and her office more concerned about keeping us shielded from the truth yielded an outcome we predicted. We have no choice but to believe that evidence was either withheld or mishandled during the grand jury proceedings. That ADA Murphy would tell us that the grand jury would not indict if Hess testified and was credible is beyond us. Conclusions appear to have bee drawn at the outset and the entire process appears now to have been nothing short of an attempt to create better optics for the DA and her office.
We now respectfully ask the US DOJ to act in accordance with their statement relating to these very proceedings. This process is most analogous to a person committing a crime which their siblings investigate and for which their closest relatives determine their punishment. All the while the crime victim is left in the dark until the family decides how it handle the misdeed of their own. Should we expect the conclusion to be fair and impartial?
We also hope that both NY Governor Cuomo and NY Attorney General Shneiderman intercede for the good of their citizens who live in this county without the assurance they should have in the integrity of the people entrusted with the care and safekeeping of our constitution. Truth should not be so elusive
when it is the very foundation of our justice system.
There is only one truth about what led to our son’s death and we believe a review of the actual evidence would have led to an indictment. What was gathered and what was presented to the grand jury is not known, but the outcome suggests that it fell far short of being effective and far short of absolute truth! We will NOT stop until Mr. Hess is held accountable for the killing of our beloved DJ.
No citizen should accept a murder committed by anyone, certainly not a murder committed by a person sworn to protect the public good.