THORNWOOD, N.Y. – Investigators are trying to unravel conflicting accounts of how a Pace University football player driving away from the scene of a fight ended up dead hours after the team’s homecoming game, struck in a burst of police gunfire that pierced his windshield.
Authorities say Danroy “D.J.” Henry, 20, was parked in a fire lane outside a suburban New York bar but sped away from officers who rapped on his car window, hitting one who clung to the hood as the sedan barreled toward a colleague.
But the father of a passenger in the car says the driver took off because he thought police wanted him to move — and he denied that an officer was struck.
The New York State Police, Westchester County crime scene experts and the office of Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore are investigating the events involving three local police officers early Sunday. Henry had just played in Pace’s game against Stonehill College of Easton, Mass., the junior defensive back’s hometown.
His family and friends are skeptical of the account of events police gave.
Brandon Cox, a passenger in Henry’s car who was grazed by a bullet, said they “won’t rest until we get justice for D.J.”
“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. “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’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.
DiFiore, speaking Tuesday at an unrelated news conference in Yonkers, expressed confidence that her investigation will unearth exactly what happened. She said everyone with information will be interviewed. DiFiore said she expected to speak Tuesday with Henry’s parents.
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.