DJ Henry’s father 10 years after his son’s death: ‘We still have to fight’

Pace University football standout Danroy "DJ" Henry Jr., 20, was shot and killed by Westchester police officer Aaron Hess outside of Finnegan’s Grill in Thornwood, N.Y., on Oct. 17, 2010 as he drove away from a disturbance at a local bar. The case is getting renewed national attention as high-profile musicians Jay-Z, Rihanna and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. have joined the victim’s family to demand that the 10-year-old case be reopened.

Video Transcript


DANROY HENRY, SR.: From the time he was a little baby, Danny and I would play sports together. Danny wanted to be an athlete. I enjoyed watching him play and fulfill his dream. He would share with me the highs and the lows.

Well, our son lost his life in an unjustified shooting. There was no crime being committed, none being alleged. And yet the-- Aaron Hess, who shot our son, decided that the moment required escalation to the point of use of deadly force, when there was no crime being committed and no crime alleged.

- Initially, there reports were that our son was trying to run people over. He wasn't following directions. And later on, once we got video footage, all of that turned out to not be true. In fact, our son was following an order that was given to him by a police officer. I'm so grateful for the other police officer that came forward and told the truth, because it did change the narrative, and people were able to see that there was an injustice.

DANROY HENRY, SR.: It's been one long day in some ways, right? We really haven't had a chance to stop and just think about the actual loss of our son. We feel it every day. It is ever present in our daily beings.

But we feel like we still have to have this posture of fighting because, ultimately, we don't think this case was ever properly tried. I certainly think the way that they tried to [INAUDIBLE] these kids-- you know, they tried to turn them into thugs, bad kids who were up to no good, by creating these false narratives-- I certainly think they were playing to-- they were playing to sort of the idea that there's this presumption of guilt when these things happen. And I think they were trying to play off of that, frankly.

I don't know what I've learned. But the painful part of this is that I still have trust in our institutions. I just sometimes don't trust the people who are entrusted for-- with caring for our institutions.

My last words to my son and his words to me were "I love you." So I don't know that there's a better way. I hugged him, I kissed him on his neck which I always did, told him I loved him, and he told me that he loves me. I'm not sure that I could find better words.

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