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Without Indictment, Henry Family Plans to Move Forward

A grand jury announced Monday there will not be an indictment against Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant police officers.

While awaiting news as to whether or not there would be an indictment against the Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant police officers who fired shots at their son, the Henry family said they hoped to be pleasantly surprised.

But, when Danroy Henry Sr. received a call from the Westchester County District Attorney's office Monday, there was no indictment.

"We would have been surprised if there was an indictment," said Danroy Henry Sr. outside of his Symphony Drive home in Easton, MA, Monday evening.

Henry said Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore's investigation into the case was a shield to "improve the optics" of the situation. He said from the beginning, there was no attempt to "find the truth" in what actually happened to his son the early morning of Oct. 17 outside a bar in Thornwood, NY, when 20-year-old Pace University football player Danroy "DJ" Henry was shot and killed by Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess. Mount Pleasant Police Officer Ronald Beckley also fired shots.

"They weren't pursuing the truth," said Angella Henry, DJ Henry's mother on Monday evening outside of the Henry's Easton, MA home. "If they were pursuing the truth, we would be standing here saying something different right now."

Now, the Henrys plan to move forward, both with a civil suit and a continued quest for murder charges. The Henrys have already for $120 million against the municipalities of Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant, and have continued to ask the federal government to step in. The family said in a statement they would ask the U.S. Department of Justice to act.

During a televised Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer read the district attorney's statement regarding the case in full.

"Clearly is this as tragic an incident as one could imagine...one that has left this village very much shaken," he said. "And tonight we are appreciative, as the Westchester district attorney is, of the service rendered by the grand jury. We are appreciative of the fact that our officer Aaron Hess has not been indicted and we are saddened, as we have been since the day this happened, on behalf of the Henry family for their tragic loss, on behalf of Aaron and his family and on behalf of every person, every Pace student, every police officer, everyone who was involved in this incident, which we hope will never be repeated."

Scherer also acknowledged the lawsuits expected to arise out of the incident.

"As you may be aware from press reports, the Henry family, as well as a number of others, have begun the process of filing lawsuits that will involve the Village of Pleasantville," he said. "That will limit our opportunity to speak on lots of different matters, but it's important to report what happened today with the results of the grand jury hearing. So, we will report as we can as we go forward in the process and what we find out about the lawsuits that we anticipate will come from here."

In a statement released by the district attorney's office, the grand jury "found that there was no reasonable cause to vote an indictment."

According to the statement, "more than 400 people were interviewed by investigators in New York and elsewhere" during the duration of the case.

The 23 jurors who began an examination of the evidence on Jan. 10 heard testimony from 85 witnesses during the hearing, 46 of whom were Pace University students. from Henry Sr., as well as Easton native and student Brandon Cox, DJ Henry's friend sitting in the front seat of the car the morning of the shooting, were also heard.

Four police officers who were at the scene testified during the hearing, including Hess and Beckley. A ballistics expert also testified.

The Henrys, though, said the grand jury did not hear all of the evidence.

The family lawyer, Michael Sussman said in a phone conference Monday that some evidence was left out of the grand jury proceedings purposely, including an 80-minute tape showing the interview of one of the passengers 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 as it would "taint the grand jury."

Danroy Henry Sr. also said that DJ Henry's sister, Amber, a sophomore at in Easton, was not asked to testify. Henry Sr. said Amber Henry's testimony could have been crucial to the hearings and proven his son's clear head the morning of the shooting.

Police accounts say Henry sped off from the fire lane when an officer asked him to move. Hess, who shot Henry while on the hood of the 20-year-old's car, said there was no time for him to get out of the way.

"We know [evidence] was withheld," Danroy Henry Sr. said. "Amber was texting with him well into the night and early morning."

The Henry family has asked for an outside presence to step in since October, supporting to the New York Governor's office and Attorney General. The family visited elected officials in Washington and the Easton Board of Selectmen, upon request from the Henry family, asking for an independent investigation as well.

"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," the family said in a statement.

The family said they hope New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will intercede along with the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Consistent with our practice in cases of this kind, the Department of Justice will review all of the available evidence with respect to the death of Danroy Henry, Jr., including the evidence available to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, to determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws," said Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in a statement Monday.

While Monday didn't yield an indictment, the family said they will continue to pursue murder charges through different avenues. According to Angella Henry, the fight has just begun.

"We're interested in a conviction," Danroy Henry Sr. said. "We are seeking a conviction. Period."

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