PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - A police officer who shot and killed a Pace University student last fall is suing a Briarcliff liquor store, claiming the alcohol the underage man allegedly bought there caused the incident.
Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess filed a lawsuit Monday against Briarcliff Wines & liquors, the store he said sold 20-year-old Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr. alcohol illegally.
Last October, Hess shot and killed Henry after police were called to a disturbance at Finnegan’s Bar and Grill in Thornwood. Police said Henry struck Hess with his car after being ordered to stop. Hess, while on the hood of Henry’s car, fired through the windshield, killing the Pace football player. Hess said he suffered severe injuries to his knee after being hit by the car.
"We believe that if Mr. Henry had not been intoxicated, he would have not tried to run over Police Officer Hess," said Mitchell Baker, the lawyer for Hess. "And we lay blame on the party from whom he illegally obtained alcohol from which was the liquor store."
A representative for Briarcliff Wines & Liquors was unavailable to comment.
Henry’s family, however, said Hess’ lawsuit is just an effort for the officer to shift blame.
"I don't really know what his motive is other than to deflect blame and to make it appear that the issue in the case is DJ Henry's sobriety or lack thereof, which isn’t the case, it wasn't a DWI stop," said civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, who is representing the family. "It's really tragic that they can't take ownership."
In February, Hess was cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing in the incident. However, in April Henry’s family filed a civil lawsuit against Hess. That same month the Pleasantville Police Benevolent Association controversially named Hess "Officer of the Year.”
Baker said his client is still on leave because of the injuries he sustained in the incident.
"We are unsure at the present time, due to the physical demands of being a police officer, whether he will ever be able to be a police officer again," he said.