The Examiner

Henry Family Seeking $120M in Damages

We are part of The Trust Project
Slain Pace University Student D.J. Henry

The family of slain Pace University student D.J. Henry filed a notice of claim Tuesday with the Town of Mount Pleasant and the Village of Pleasantville seeking $120 million in a potential wrongful death suit.
Michael Sussman, the attorney for the Henry family, questioned the training and professionalism of Mount Pleasant Police Officer Ronald Beckley and Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess, who fired the fatal shot outside Finnegan’s in Thornwood on Oct. 17. Beckley had asked the 20-year-old student, who was sitting behind the wheel of the car, to move the vehicle out of a fire lane. The officers were responding to reports of a fight at Finnegan’s.
“No officer would jump out in front of a moving car, gun drawn, with no criminality afoot,” Sussman said.
He read an eyewitness’ statement mentioning that when Henry moved the car it was at a slow rate of speed. The attorney did not elaborate on how fast the car was traveling when Hess was hit, which caused him to end up on its hood.
While a lawsuit in New York State involving police departments would be against the municipality that employs the officers, the family could also file a federal civil rights lawsuit against them individually.
A grand jury was expected to convene this week. Sussman called on any witnesses who have information from that night to get in contact with the Westchester County District Attorney’s office. He expects the grand jury investigation to last at least a few weeks. Sussman said he was looking for Hess to be indicted on murder charges.
Hess, through his attorney, has contended that he felt his life was in danger.
On Tuesday, Henry’s parents appeared with Sussman on Good Morning America. His father, D.J. Henry Sr., said his son was complying with Beckley’s direction when Hess suddenly jumped in front of the car.
“This officer never gave our son time,” he said.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.