Danroy “DJ” Henry Remembered: 5-Year Anniversary


James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

Left: The clock tower built in honor of DJ Henry outside of Goldstein Health and Fitness Center. Top Right: The clock face with only a No. 12 in honor of DJ’s jersey number. Bottom right: The plaque at the foot of the clock tower that honors DJ.

JAMES MIRANDA, Sports Editor

It has been five years since the death of a Pace football player enveloped the Pace community and left many motionless with unanswered questions. One thing is for certain, the legacy of Danroy “DJ” Henry, Jr. lives on and the memories of him are not forgotten.

According to many people who knew Henry, he was nothing but kind, always smiling, deeply religious, popular, and a very capable and athletic young man from Easton, Mass.

In 2010, Henry was a very bright student. The defensive back was gifted athletically and football was his life. He had transferred to Pace from Iona College the year following the termination of their football program.

“From my position, and knowing [Henry], it is all those things, but it’s more than that because I knew the person,” said Cornell Craig, who was the wide receiving coach back in 2010. “He was more than a football player. He was eager and excited about experiencing life.”

Craig remembered when he woke up to missed calls from then head coach Chris Dapolito informing of the tragedy the night Henry died. Craig said it went from “zero to 100.” For Craig, it was not just a story, it was personal.

“I saw some of myself in him at that age,” Craig said. “He was very positive, outgoing, and thirsty for knowledge and information. He would pick my brain about my experience, we had similar body types, so he would ask, ‘Mr. Craig, what would you do to get faster and get stronger?’”

Dean of Students Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo recalled how she had to arrive to the chaotic scene in Thornwood. She was an associate with Pace Athletics at the time.

Moscaritolo was in charge of getting students to the Briarcliff campus to ensure no more harm was done. She said she did not sleep that night.

The events that forged the night of his death were complicated and confusing. There were many accounts and sides that further made the whole story perplexing.

At approximately 1 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2010, Henry was shot and killed by Pleasantville Police Department officer Aaron Hess.

On that night, Henry and friends went to Finnegan’s Bar and Grill in Thornwood; it was the night of the homecoming football game at Pace. Henry had left the bar and waited outside in his car with two other friends while they waited for another friend inside.

His car was idling in the fire lane when a police officer asked him to move the car. Police were responding to an incident that occurred earlier that did not pertain to Henry and his friends.

This much is documented as fact. The events that followed have been highly scrutinized for years.

To many different contentions, Henry then left the fire lane, yet Hess stepped in front of the moving vehicle with his weapon drawn. Hess then ended up on the hood of Henry’s car and discharged his weapon through the windshield of the car.

It was later admitted by Hess that he “lunged” at the car, according to Lohud.com.

The car veered off to the left and crashed. According to the Henry family’s lawyer Michael Sussman, police had removed Henry from the car, handcuffed him, and laid him facedown on the pavement and didn’t give him medical attention from five to 14 minutes.

According to Sussman, Hess fired four shots and three were hits on Henry and the passenger Brandon Cox, who was shot in the arm. The vehicle could not have been traveling more than 15 miles per hour, and was decelerating when Hess was on the hood, according to Sussman.

Sussman also contends that Henry was not drunk, a charge that police debate.

Another officer, Ronald Beckley, fired his weapon at Hess because he thought Hess was an aggressor, according to The Boston Globe. His bullet hit the car.

Several teammates that were there that night were arrested, but the charges were later dropped.

Hess was freed, as there were no indictments. A total of 10 lawsuits were filed regarding the case, according to Sussman.

“There were seven Pace students who brought lawsuits based on what happened afterwards,” Sussman said. “There was an eighth student [Cox] who was from Stonehill [College] and brought a lawsuit based on the shooting and [Sussman and Watkins Law Firm] has two.”

The Henry family’s federal lawsuit was closed in April 2015 because the “evidence does not support” the charges, according to the Boston Globe. However, the family did bring a civil suit against Hess.

In result of Henry’s death, the Henry family has never stopped fighting in order to get the truth of what they claim happened to their son. The DJ Dream Fund was formed in hopes to give children an opportunity to play sports and be a part of sports programs.

Vigils have been held routinely in honor of Henry. A memorial clock was built in 2012 to honor Henry and a field in Easton was named after him.

Jay-Z and Kanye West released a song called “Murder to Excellence” on their album Watch the Throne, where Jay-Z says “This is to the memory of Danroy Henry.”

The class Henry was a part of has graduated from Pace. However, there are still some who can recall that night and the days following.

“I was on campus that night, a lot of people didn’t sleep on campus that night,” said Qadry Harris, who was a freshman when Henry died. “A lot of stories came out that he was speeding, drinking, he had hit a cop, and the cop shot him while he was on the hood. When [the Pace community] heard, everything stopped.”

According to Harris and Craig, that day and the days following were not bright and they clouded the rest of the semester for him and many students.

“Pace was in turmoil,” Craig said. “Monday evening we had a vigil here on campus and it packed out the fitness center. It was something that affected the entire community. Other students were there and saw what occurred. It was something that happened to Pace teammates and students and it was so close to home.”

Counselors were brought in immediately the days following too. The Monday after the shooting, Pace held a candlelight vigil in Henry’s name. People who didn’t know him came and the community as a whole unified.

“The following night, the students wanted to do something immediately to remember Henry,” Moscaritolo said. “We had quite a few vigils celebrating or trying to put in perspective of what happened.”

The case in itself was highly scrutinized. Past Chronicle articles quote friends and family who have had hunches that the case possibly lacked a thorough investigation.

“It didn’t make sense for the person I knew,” Craig said. “He wasn’t violent, he wasn’t aggressive. Me knowing him, it wasn’t malicious.”

Media had many roles and led to some division on campus. According to Boston Magazine, Beckley told Mt. Pleasant Police Lieutenant Brian Fanelli that he shot at the “center mass” of Hess with the intent to kill.

However, Fanelli had written down that Beckley feared for his life and shot at the car, according to Boston Magazine. Initially, the police chief, Louis Alagno, ran with that statement for a press conference and it led to the stories that Henry was speeding and officers feared for their lives.

Two years after the statement, Beckley admitted that the statement used in the press conference was not true.

For people on campus at the time, no one knew the truth. For the Henry family that’s all they wanted.

“We’re fighting as people who have nothing to give; we lost our son,” Danroy Henry, Sr said in a previous Chronicle article. “[The Police Department] has everything to lose in this quest for truth and we will not stop until we get it; all we have asked for is clarity and facts.”

Henry will always be a part of Pace history. However, current Pace students do not necessarily know the events that took place. Therefore, it is up to those who were there five years ago to keep Henry’s legacy alive.

“What I want it to be is a continued effort to speak out on injustice and social issues,” Craig said. “It was easier when students and teammates were here at the time. It is a little more of a challenge [now] and this is why I think it’s good that the Black Student Union (BSU) is doing something because it can keep the spirit of DJ alive.”

Henry will be honored as a part of homecoming week. BSU will host a march for Henry Thursday Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. It will take place at Shirley Beth’s Way and the march will end at Goldstein Fitness.

According to Moscaritolo, Angella and Danroy Henry, Sr. will be present and will speak.

“I hope his parents are somehow finding peace five years after their son was tragically taken away from them,” Harris said. “No matter whom you side with, the Pace University community lost someone. I don’t think that should ever be wiped away from the slate.”


The chaotic scene on the morning of Oct. 17 when Danroy Henry died. Photo from lohud.com.  Bottom: The same road where the Henry shooting took place, as of Oct. 8.
James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.
The chaotic scene on the morning of Oct. 17 when Danroy Henry died. Photo from lohud.com.
Bottom: The same road where the Henry shooting took place, as of Oct. 8.