The family of a Black Pace University student is infuriated after the police officer responsible for his death was recently named “officer of the year” by his union.
According to The New York Post, Officer Aaron Hess of Pleasantville in Westchester County, N.Y. received the honor in early April. But the relatives of slain 20-year-old Danroy “DJ” Henry say the award is an insult, after Hess fatally shot the Pace junior and defensive back outside a bar last October.
“What are the requirements [for the award], to kill a young man?” Henry’s mother told the Post. “It’s consistent with the arrogant behavior and the insensitivity we have received since Oct. 17. The people of Westchester should be concerned that an officer killed someone and be named Officer of the Year. If they’re rewarded for that, I think it’ll happen again.”
The Police Benevolent Association told the Post that Hess was honored for the “dignified and professional manner he’s conducted himself throughout his career and ordeal.” The organization stated that they didn’t intend to offend the family.
According to the Associated Press, Henry was killed outside of a bar in Thornwood, N.Y. following Pace University’s homecoming game on Oct. 17. When Hess and other officers arrived responding to reports of a brawl, they approached Henry’s car, which was parked in a fire lane.
After Hess knocked on Henry’s window, the young man sped off. Hess claimed that he fired shots at the student’s car after Henry hit Hess with his vehicle and drove away.
Autopsy results revealed that Henry’s alcohol levels were above the legal limit, but his family insists that he wasn’t drunk.
Hess was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in February. Henry’s relatives are pursuing a $120 million lawsuit against Pleasantville. They are also seeking help from the Department of Justice, which said it would further review the case to determine whether any civil rights offenses took place.