WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - -A federal judge in White Plains on Thursday ordered that previously confidential documents, video and audio in the fatal shooting of Danroy Henry be made available to the public.
“There’s a huge amount of material that has been amassed, including 911 communication, police communication, video and hundreds of witness statements,” said Michael Sussman, the attorney for the Henry family.
Federal Judge George Yanthis said that the attorneys representing Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville and the police officers involved in the case did not show cause to keep the informational confidential. Yanthis was not swayed by claims that releasing this info could potentially hamper future investigations or compromise the privacy of witnesses.
“This is a significant victory for transparency and the public right to know,” Sussman said. “In that regard I applaud the court for rejecting the notion that there’s some law enforcement privilege or some other reason why the public should not know the entire story.”
In October of 2010, Henry, a 20-year-old Pace University football player, was fatally shot by Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess after an altercation that started in a Thornwood bar. After Hess was not indicted on criminal charges stemming from the incident in February, a confidentiality order was placed on the evidence, such as 911 recordings.
Bonita Zellman, who represents several of DJ Henry’s teammates who were present the night of the shooting, said this decision has set a precedent for the future.
“This should send a message out loud and clear to the police law enforcement officers of Westchester County,” she said. “You’re not going to get away with killing any more of our children or brutalizing any more of our students.”
Sussman said making these documents available to the public will allow people to see the facts and come to their own conclusions.
“I think the revelation of this material will fuel public interest and allow people to see for themselves and hear for themselves what went on,” he said.
The witness statements and other documents would be made available in an “orderly way, promptly” according to Sussman.