The lawyer for the family of Danroy Henry Jr. today formally asked the Obama administration to investigate Henry's fatal shooting by police, saying he has no faith in a probe led by local police after the leak Friday of blood alcohol tests suggesting Henry was drunk when he was shot.
New York attorney Michael Sussman said the anonymous release of confidential tests showing that Henry, 20, of Easton had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent when he was driving a car toward police -- before the family knew of the results -- highlighted the local police department’s conflict of interest.
He also said the tests do not officially certify that Henry was drunk at the time, and that more testing and a full autopsy still needs to be completed. He said the release of the information about the Pace University football player was meant to distract media attention from the police actions.
Henry's remains have been cremated. His family plans a "Celebration of Life" this Friday afternoon at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.
In a letter sent to US Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to get involved, Sussman wrote that it has “become painfully clear that the investigation is fatally flawed and that an independent investigation is required to insure that the truth about what happened is determined and revealed.”
“Understanding what precisely happened is obviously critical to a determination of liability, if any, for his death,” the letter states. “Conflicting stories have emerged about these circumstances and it is vital that the public have confidence in the integrity of any investigation and prosecution.”
Sussman said the Department of Justice’s civil rights division could have jurisdiction in the case because he is still probing whether race was a factor in the shooting. Henry and two occupants of his car are members of minority groups. The two officers who fired their weapons are white.
“It is too early to tell whether racial profiling and stereotyping animated the shooting, but that hypothesis must be pursued and resolved in light of the known facts,” the letter states.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice would only say her office is monitoring the local investigation, led by police in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., where the shooting occurred.
Sussman also sent a letter to Winchester District Attorney Janet DiFiori, whose office is assisting in the investigation, asking her to support the call for the independent investigation.
He said the leak of the test results “demonstrates either incompetence or maliciousness.” The letter to the Westchester prosecutor can be found here.
Henry was shot just after 1 a.m. while in his car, after allegedly striking a police officer. Differing accounts of the shooting have emerged from police and witnesses. Police said that Henry took off in his car, heading at an officer, and that the officer ended up on the hood and fired. Witnesses have said that Henry thought police asked him to move his car, and that the officer jumped in front of the vehicle. Henry, the witnesses said, had no time to stop.
His family has called for the “absolute truth” from witnesses and police.
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