June 29, 2011
BOSTON — A New York police officer who last year shot and killed a 20-year-old Easton native Danroy “DJ” Henry, Jr. is suing a liquor store for allegedly selling alcohol to the victim. But Henry’s mother, Angella, says the lawsuit is intended to distract from the real facts of the case.
Officer Aaron Hess shot Danroy Henry Junior when the Pace University student was driving away from Finnegan’s Bar in Thornton NY, after another officer instructed him to move out of a fire lane.
The shooting is not in dispute, but the circumstances are. Several witnesses said Hess shouted at Henry to stop, and when the car rolled on, Hess allegedly jumped on the hood firing through the windshield. Hess and at least one other witness argue Henry tried to run him down. This was the version of events was accepted by a New York grand jury, which cleared Officer Hess.
A justice department probe is now under way into the case, and Henrys have filed a federal lawsuit against the police officer.
Now, Hess is suing a liquor he says is responsible for the damages he incurred while responding to the case.
Mitchell Baker, Hess’s attorney, argues that liquor played a role in the confrontation between Hess and Henry. This week, he announced a lawsuit against Briarcliff Wines & Liquors in Briarcliff Manor, NY.
“The allegations in the complaint are that Mr. Henry obtained alcohol illegally from the main defendant in the lawsuit. He went to the bar where he actually didn’t drink there as far as we know, but he had the terrible tragic accident with officer Hess and he was intoxicated when that occurred. That makes the liquor store responsible for the injuries which Officer Hess suffered,” Baker said.
Aaron Hess’s knee was injured during the confrontation.
Angella Henry, DJ’s mother, argues the Hess’s lawsuit is a “smokescreen,” meant to shade the circumstances leading to her son’s death. She says her son never purchased any liquor from the store — and that an autopsy performed after DJ’s death shows he wasn’t drunk during the confrontation.
“This is another way of getting people distracted from the facts which is, DJ was not drunk,” Henry said. “The autopsy proves that he was was not drunk. And we released that, so that everyone could see it.”
“They can look at everything and say, how is it possible that they claimed he was drunk when in his digestive system there was no alcohol. And in his stomach there was only a trace, trace amounts, so how was it possible. This is just another way to distract people from the truth,” Henry continued.
WGBH contacted Briarcliff Wines & Liquors, but the person who answered the phone said they would not comment on the lawsuit. However, according to Westchester County Newspapers, lawyers for the store deny they sold liquor to DJ Henry. But Hess' attorney says his investigation proves otherwise.
The Hess lawsuit is expected to be heard sometime within the year.