Pace University on Monday unveiled a mural at the Pleasantville campus’ Kessel Student Center in memory of Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr., a student-athlete who was fatally shot by a police officer 11 years ago.
Henry, a 20-year-old junior, died Oct. 17, 2010, after being shot by a Pleasantville police officer responding to a fight outside a Thornwood bar. The Easton, Massachusetts, resident played for the college’s football team.
The 12-foot-by-8-foot mural was painted by Brittney S. Price, a Los Angeles-based artist who specializes in visual commentary on current events.
The mural unveiling was part of Pace University’s Second Annual Social Justice Week, which runs from Oct. 24 to Oct. 29 and includes lectures and original programming to engage the campus community about issues of equity, justice, and racism.
“What happened to DJ Henry was an unforgettable, unforgivable tragedy,” Pace President Marvin Krislov said during the unveiling. “But his legacy lives on. It lives on in his legacy of kindness and commitment. It lives on in the efforts of our students to ensure he is commemorated. It lives on our important Social Justice Week of programming. It lives on in our commitment to justice, progress, and anti-racism. And lives on in this beautiful mural.”
This initiative was primarily student-driven, from advocating for the mural, selecting the artist, and contributing ideas for the artwork
“A mural in honor of Danroy ‘DJ’ Henry is important for the entire Pace community because it shows what we can accomplish together as a community,” said Irach’e “Shea” Teague, a senior English major who helped conceive and advocate for the mural . “Equity and accountability is the only way we can achieve justice and that is the start to greater change.”
The incident that took Henry’s life transpired when Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess fired four gunshots at Henry’s moving car. The shooting occurred outside Finnegan’s Grill in Thornwood, where police were dispatched for a fight about 1:20 a.m.
Six months after the shooting, the Police Benevolent Association of the Pleasantville Police Department gave Hess its Officer of the Year Award.
The case went before a grand jury in 2011 and was reviewed by federal prosecutors in 2015, but Hess, who is white, was never charged in Henry’s death. The Westchester District Attorney’s Office announced in June that it would join a former federal judge in a new review of the case.
Despite the lack of criminal charges, Henry’s family reached a $6 million settlement with the Village of Pleasantville, and settled a civil lawsuit with the Town of Mount Pleasant that included an apology and a $250,000 contribution to a charity formed in the student’s memory.