In a new letter sent to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington and other celebrities demand that the Department of Justice re-examines the death of Danroy “DJ” Henry, a Black Pace University student who was shot and killed by a white cop in 2010.
“This agonizing case remains an unhealed wound for the Henry family and the people of New York,” the letter reportedly reads, according to the New York Post’s Page Six. “DJ, a young Black youth with a bright future ahead of him, was killed for no apparent reason inside his own vehicle.”
The letter’s signees ask that the Department of Justice looks into whether discrimination played a role in Henry’s death at the young age of 20. If so, they urge the department to “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.”
“The facts of the case reek of local conflict of interest, racial bias and even false testimony,” it continues. “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.”
Henry’s father, Danroy Henry Sr., thanked the public figures for bringing attention and awareness to the case, telling Page Six, “We appreciate that they’re sort of leaning into the moment and that they’re willing to stand behind us on this really important matter.”
According to a CBS News report regarding the incident, Henry was a football player who was out at a sports bar with his teammates when a fight broke out. While sitting in his car, police at the scene said that Henry was parked in a fire lane and was asked to move. Officer Aaron Hess claims that Henry sped towards him with the car and hit him, causing the officer to fire at the unarmed man. However, one of DJ’s friends said that he witnessed DJ backing his car up slowly, as asked of him.
“Where we were parked there was like there was a curve in the roadway. As we come around that curve, I can see somebody running from in between those two cars with their gun raised,” the friend recalls. The Henry family filed a civil lawsuit against Hess and another officer who pulled DJ from his car, however, a grand jury declined to indict Hess in 2011.
“In 2011, the Henrys set up the DJ Henry Dream Fund to provide scholarships for children in Massachusetts to participate in community-based athletics, wellness, arts and summer camps,” CBS News reported.