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Hess' Attorney Challenges Charges in DJ Henry Case

Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess's attorney and plaintiffs' lawyers to meet next month.

The parties involved in the  following  of  student Danroy "DJ" Henry will meet for a pre-motion conference on July 10.

The scheduled meeting in the White Plains United States District Court follows an April 4 pre-motion conference meeting overseen by Judge Kenneth M. Karas. The upcoming conference was requested by Brian Sokoloff, the attorney representing  Officer Aaron Hess, who fired the fatal shot at the Thornwood Shopping Center.

A Westchester County grand jury  Hess during a hearing last February.

Danroy and Angella Henry, DJ's parents, have also filed a suit against The Village of Pleasantville. Danroy Henry Sr.  after a federal judge —including witness statements, audio files and videos—at the request of their attorney Michael Sussman.

In a May 18 letter to Judge Karas, Sokoloff contests the allegations against his client, including those that claim Hess used "excessive force" against the plaintiffs, who include Henry's peers—Joseph Garcia, Yves Delpeche, Martin LaRoche, Rebecca Gallo, Daniel Parker, Desmond Hinds and Joseph Romanick.

"Plaintiffs' amended complaints are still defective and fail to state that Officer Hess exerted some force..." Sokoloff wrote. "Without this essential element, plaintiffs' complaints are not viable."

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He also disputed the claim that Hess "failed to intercede," claiming the officer did not have "a realistic opportunity" to do so. Sokoloff further claims Hess was not part of "any alleged conspiracy" and his actions were not "motivated by racial animus."

Bonita Zelman, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the cases against Hess—as well as the Village of Pleasantville, Town of Mount Pleasant, Westchester County and several other individuals—responded in a May 29 letter to Judge Karas.

In her letter, Zelman states, "both the complaint and the amended complaint for plaintiff Desmond Hinds clearly assert sufficient allegations of excessive force claim against defendant Hess."

She later writes, "At the April 4, 2012 conference before Your Honor, and now in plaintiffs' amended complaints, the plaintiffs assert that defendant Hess' initial actions of aggression made it reasonably foreseeable that his fellow officers would engage in their subsequent acts of brutality against the plaintiffs."

Zelman alleges the conspiracy claim is justified, stating Hess is guilty of, "making false statements to internal affairs, and abdication of the officers' legal duty to report incriminating evidence to the proper authorities" and adds later in the letter, "the majority of the students who were arrested and brutalized were minority individuals."

In addition to The July 10 pre-motion conference, court records indicate a fact discovery deadline has been set for August 1 for the related cases.

Note: The preceding information does not indicate a conviction.


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