Jay-Z and Rihanna, among a host of celebrities, have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice demanding a reopening of an investigation into the tragic death of Danroy “DJ” Henry in 2010.
Henry, a student at Pace University in New York, was fatally shot by a white police officer in 2010. According to PEOPLE, the two celebs, along with Pharrell Williams, Charlize Theron, Taraji Henson, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Williams, Kerry Washington, Mary J. Blige and Gabrielle Union lent their signature to a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr on Monday (July 13).
“This agonizing case remains an unhealed wound for the Henry family and the people of New York,” the letter reads. “DJ, a young Black youth with a bright future ahead of him, was killed for no apparent reason inside his own vehicle.”
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It continues: “The facts of the case reek of local conflict of interest, racial bias and even false testimony. But like so many other unarmed and innocent young, Black men who find themselves guilty of being at the wrong time, DJ, too, lost his life for no good reason and with absolutely no good explanation — to this very day. Justice, it appears, has been denied.”
The group is asking the DOJ to reevaluate whether “a pattern and/or practice of discrimination played a role in the case of DJ Henry,” and if so, the department should “deliver the justice that restores this young man’s reputation, while giving hope to other young Black men who are just like him and desperate for change.”
According to Page Six, Henry’s father, Danroy Henry Sr., said his family is grateful for the support. “We appreciate that they’re leaning into the moment and that they’re willing to stand behind us on this really important matter,” he told the publication.
On October 17, 2010, DJ had been out at a sports bar with friends when a group of patrons began fighting. According to CBS News, police responded to the scene and said DJ was parked in a fire lane in front of the establishment.According to news reports, believing police had asked him to move his car, he pulled away. But police said when he did, he allegedly sped toward Officer Aaron Hess hitting him and pushing him onto the hood of the car, forcing him to shoot at Henry. He later claimed that he thought he was “going to be killed.”
However one of Henry’s friends who was with him in the car, Desmond Hinds, says that Hess began shooting at him unprovoked. “We were in the Wild, Wild West. That’s what it felt like,” said Hinds.
More recent evidence reportedly finds that fellow officer Ronald Beckley said he had also fired at Hess because he was the aggressor in the situation.
A deposition obtained by Patch also revealed Hess was “mounting” the car rather than being hit by it as he was shooting.
Danroy Henry Sr. said during an interview with CBS News last month that Hess was trying to “villainize our son.”
“It was to make him seem like a criminal thug that needed to be stopped,” he said. “They shot him, took him out of his car, handcuffed him, made him stand up, and then laid him on the ground and left him there by himself.”
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