Questions surround shooting of Pace football player

October 19, 2010 3:12:25 PM PDT
The memorial in the parking lot continues to draw the curious and the grieving to the spot where Danroy Henry's car came to a stop, and his life came to an end. Henry was shot and killed by a police officer investigating a brawl outside a bar early Sunday morning.

Police say the Pace University football player he hit an officer and clipped another as he attempted to speed away.

A Pleasantville police officer ended up on the hood and opened fire, but the father of Desmond Hinds, who was in the back seat, told Eyewitness News off camera the students were told to clear the fire lane and the officer jumped on the hood of the moving car.

It's the same version given by another passenger, Brandon Cox.

"In my heart, what went on that night ... it didn't need to come to that," Cox, who played football for Stonehill, said at a news conference outside his family's home in Easton, Mass. "Whether we were trying to drive away or not ... there was no need for any of that to happen. I do feel that we were victimized in that my friend's life was taken for no reason."

Cox, who wouldn't elaborate on the events of early Sunday, citing his lawyer's advice, said he was "heartbroken."

"We spent all our summers together," he said. "We worked out together. We got ready for football together. We laughed ... we rejoiced together."

Cox's father, Thomas Parks, said Henry thought a police officer who knocked on the window of the car wanted them to move, so he started driving. He said Henry and Cox then saw an officer climb onto the hood and fire into the car.

The two were not involved in the fight that drew police to the scene, Parks said. Mount Pleasant Police Chief Louis Alagno said he would not comment on Parks' account.

The Westchester County District Attorney said her office will sort out the conflicting accounts.

In the coming days investigators will examine toxicology results, ballistics reports, dozens of witnesses will be interviewed and videos, such as ones taken by cell phones immediately after the shooting, will be analyzed.

A disturbance at Finnegan's Grill spilled from the strip mall in the Westchester County hamlet of Thornwood into the parking lot, and police from Pleasantville and Mount Pleasant were called.

Henry's Nissan Altima was parked in a fire lane as officers arrived. When an officer knocked on his window, Henry stepped on the gas, Alagno said.

"For no reason, the vehicle sped away," Alagno said at a news conference. "I can't describe to you why the driver did what he did."

Pleasantville Officer Aaron Hess tried to stop the car, was struck and "ended up on the hood," Alagno said. Hess drew his pistol and fired into the vehicle, the chief said.

Mount Pleasant Officer Ronald Beckley also fired at the car as it neared him in the fire lane, Alagno said. Another Mount Pleasant officer, Carl Castagna, was also struck; none of the three officers was seriously injured. A back-seat passenger in Henry's car was unhurt, Alagno said.

The Nissan, still in the fire lane, crashed into a patrol car and stopped. Officers handcuffed Henry, but "on seeing his condition they uncuffed him" and treated him, including with a defibrillator, Alagno said.

A student's cell phone video recording of the aftermath appears to show people performing chest compression on a person amid flashing police lights and screaming students clutching themselves against the night chill.

One passenger suffered a graze wound, and it wasn't clear whose bullet killed Henry. Police are gathering "all available video" from nearby stores, Alagno said.

"A lot of witnesses" disagree with the preliminary police account, his father, Danroy Henry Sr., told the Brockton Enterprise of Massachusetts on Sunday, "so we need to get to the bottom of it."

The district attorney says no decision has been made whether the case will be presented to a grand jury.

Meantime, police say four college football players were arrested in the chaos after police fatally shot their teammate.

Police say one of the Pace University players had to be subdued with a stun gun.

The police chief in Mount Pleasant in Westchester County said Tuesday that one player was accused of breaking a storefront window in the shopping center where the shooting happened.

A county police spokesman says the other three refused to move from the shooting scene.

Includes information from The Associated Press