Official: NY student was driving drunk when shot

Oct 22, 2010 - 11:24 PM By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press Writer

VALHALLA, N.Y. (AP) -- A college football player was driving drunk when he was shot to death by police outside a bar after his homecoming game, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Friday.

Danroy Henry's blood-alcohol level was measured during his autopsy at 0.13, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the autopsy report hadn't been released.

The legal limit for driving in New York is 0.08.

Henry, a Pace University student from Easton, Mass., was shot in his car early Sunday after police responded to a disturbance outside a bar in suburban Thornwood, N.Y. Police said he sped away and hit two officers after a policeman knocked on his car window. His family says witnesses contradict that account.

Henry's father, Danroy Henry Sr., said outside his Massachusetts home Friday that the release of the autopsy finding seemed aimed at swaying public opinion.

"If it's a part of the truth, so be it," he said. "But at the end of the day, the central question to us is, does that justify killing our son? ... We still fundamentally believe it isn't."

Michael Sussman, a lawyer for Henry's family, said Henry had been at the bar for about an hour and a half but hadn't been drinking because he was a designated driver. Two days earlier, Sussman had said Henry hadn't been inside Finnegan's Grill.

Sussman said police were releasing the information "to change the conversation away from what police did."

"Probably several million college students have levels of 0.13 on Saturday night and early Sunday morning," Sussman said. "It had nothing to do with police approaching him."

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Louis Alagno, who is investigating the shooting, said he had not seen the autopsy results.

Earlier Friday, Alagno held a news conference to counter claims that Henry was left to die without swift medical help. He presented a timeline indicating that the student received treatment from officers within three to five minutes of the first report of a shooting.

Lawyers for some witnesses have alleged that Henry was neglected for up to 15 minutes after he was shot.

Later Friday, about 70 football players and supporters attended a press conference in Tarrytown, N.Y., where a teammate, Daniel Parker, of Lauderhill, Fla., briefly recounted the chaos of that night.

Parker has claimed that police prevented him from helping Henry after the shooting and beat him when he persisted. He is one of three teammates charged with obstruction. A fourth is accused of breaking a store window.

"Can I help him? I know CPR," Parker recalled telling police. "I said, `He's dying. Can I help him? Can I help him?' And I was cut off."

Parker's attorney, Bonita Zelman, prevented him from answering reporters' questions.

Zelman and other speakers called for the state attorney general or the federal government to take over the investigation. Although none have alleged bias in the shooting or aftermath, several said police needed better training in dealing with "communities of color."

The officers who fired at Henry's car are white. Henry's family is biracial, his attorney said. Henry's parents said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that they don't want to turn their son's death into a racial issue.

Alagno said investigators are looking for a woman who gave Henry chest compressions before officers took over. Zelman said she knows who the woman is and will try to talk to her.

Alagno said the first report of a disturbance in the bar was at 1:19 a.m. Sunday, and the first report of a shooting was at 1:25 a.m. Between 1:28 and 1:30 a.m., officers noted Henry's "grave condition," retrieved oxygen and a defibrillator, and took over CPR from the woman. By 1:35 a.m., Henry was loaded on a stretcher and wheeled to an ambulance, he said.

Zelman said, "I don't buy it." She called Alagno's account a cover-up.

Alagno said Henry was handcuffed after the shooting but said he does not know how long the cuffs were on. He had said previously that Henry was uncuffed once officers saw the severity of his injury.

A preliminary autopsy confirmed "death by gunshot," Alagno said. He did not say which officer's bullet caused the death or how many times Henry was hit. He said the investigation will take months.

A union representing one of the officers who fired on the car, Pleasantville Officer Aaron Hess, said Hess "acted in accordance with his training and as required under the circumstances."

The other officer who fired at the car has been identified as Mount Pleasant Officer Ronald Beckley.

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