Police killing of N.Y. college athlete draws criticism

By Jim Fitzgerald
Friday, October 22, 2010

VALHALLA, N.Y. - A college student who was at the scene when a schoolmate was fatally shot by police said Thursday that the killing was "over the top, aggressive and unnecessary," joining a chorus of witnesses who say police mishandled the situation.

"None of it made sense to me," said Robert Coulombe, a senior at Pace University.

Danroy "D.J." Henry of Easton, Mass., was killed early Sunday after police were called to a disturbance that spilled out of a bar in Thornwood, N.Y.

Police have said that Henry, 20, a Pace football player, sped away and hit two officers after a policeman knocked on his car window.

His family's attorney said Wednesday that witnesses contradicted that account and said paramedics ignored Henry, handcuffed and dying, to attend to injured officers.

Coulombe, who shot video of the chaotic scene after the shooting, said he was behind Henry's car and did not see the shooting but heard the shots after he saw Henry pull away "as if he was being asked to leave the fire lane."

He said he could not estimate the speed of Henry's car but said Henry drove only about 100 feet and couldn't have been going dangerously fast before his vehicle crashed into a parked police car.

"They didn't give him a chance to pull over," Coulombe said. "They could have pursued him in their vehicles."

Coulombe said he thought police overreacted.

"They unnecessarily shot someone," he said.

A union representing one of the policemen who fired on the car, Pleasantville Officer Aaron Hess, said in a statement Thursday that Hess "acted in accordance with his training and as required under the circumstances," the Journal News reported.

The Pleasantville Police Benevolent Association said its members "stand firmly behind" Hess.

- Associated Press

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