Mar. 16, 2012
BOSTON — On Monday, dozens of previously unreleased items from the night Pace University student DJ Henry was fatally shot were made public, including dashboard video, depositions and 911 tapes. But does the evidence offer any clarity about what really happened that night? DJ’s father Danroy Henry Sr. joined Emily Rooney on Greater Boston to answer that question. Read WGBH complete coverage.
WGBH: Have you looked at all the new evidence?
Henry: We haven't watched all of these videos and listened to the audio. It's just painful.
WGBH: The new video is from a police car that arrived at some point after DJ was shot, and it shows him lying on the ground while minutes go by before he receives medical treatment. Was that a surprise to you?
Henry: We knew it. People told us who were there, that morning. They were horrified by the lack of treatment, by the inhumanity of that… And frankly [the police] never denied that it was true, they just attempted to debate the duration of it. So this is just confirming evidence for people who have doubted that, who thought that that was sensationalized.
WGBH: A lot of confusion comes through in the affidavits about what really happened that night. You've challenged the police account of events. Do these documents support your point of view?
Henry: Really the only question we’re trying to answer is whether or not what Aaron Hess did was justified somehow. … If this is their best stuff… is there any justification for Aaron Hess using deadly force in this evidence? And we would argue no, quite the contrary. Emily, shouldn't the circumstances around the use of deadly force be clearer than that? I I mean shouldn't they just be clearer than that? And that's really our point.
WGBH: If Hess thought his life was in danger by DJ's car, you could see him feeling like he had to defend himself.
Henry: [Officer] Ronald Beckley… says he shot at Hess. He wasn't responding to a commotion in the roadway…. What he shoots at is a guy shooting at a car. He observes this guy in black on a car and the first threat he perceives is the guy on the car shooting — is Aaron Hess, not DJ.
… If you just think about what Hess claimed to have been justification — that he had to stop this kid from running down people because he had, in his view, had already run three people and he had to stop him — that just isn't supported by the evidence. [DJ] didn't run anyone over. The car went about four car lengths. Hess shot almost immediately. He had his gun out. He claims he didn't have his gun out [but the affidavits say] he had his gun out. … and he was the only one who shot and stopped DJ. Everybody else didn't shoot. They exercised either appropriate restraint or they saw no threat. And the only other person that shot was shooting at Hess. So it's clear to us there was no threat.
WGBH: Do you think the police are withholding any evidence?
Henry: We know that someone took DJ's phone home after it would have been considered evidence and then claimed to have brought it back… we know that these dash cams [in the cruisers on the scene] should have been operating but we weren't. … We suspect that there were some irregularities with the autopsy. So of course we suspect. Why wouldn't we?
WGBH: The federal Department of Justice is looking into the investigation. What will you do if they come back and say the New York police and courts were right?
Henry: We'll deal with it. What other choice would we have? We'll deal with it. There are no real victories for us here. We're not getting DJ back.
COMPLETE WGBH COVERAGE