WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A federal judge refused Tuesday to dismiss civil claims against Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess made by a group of people related to the shooting of former Pace University student DJ Henry.
Brian Sokoloff, the attorney representing Hess, made a motion in front of U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains to dismiss the claims made by attorney Bonita Zelman against his client. Karas did not uphold the dismissal.
Zelman was pleased with the decision. “Today is a victory,” said Zelman, who represents multiple former Pace University students and teammates of Henry’s who were at the scene of the shooting in October 2010. “These students are here for the long run for the justice of DJ, and you can’t rush justice.”
A dozen of Henry’s peers were present in the courtroom Tuesday, as well as Michael Sussman, the attorney representing Henry’s family. With multiple civil lawsuits filed against Hess, Karas said it would be a non-factor to dismiss claims made against the officer, especially before Sussman and Zelman were given a chance to take a deposition with the defendant under oath.
“It’s an unusual case because there are so many plaintiffs suing your client,” Karas said to Sokoloff.
Sussman said a deposition with Hess was not scheduled but he hopes to take it at some point in August.
Sokoloff said the multiple civil claims made against Hess were causing issues with his client’s well-being.
“My client is being sued and that’s not a light matter to have over your head,” Sokoloff said.
Before the hearing, a small rally was held outside the courthouse, where Zelman and several former Pace students claimed that Hess should be held accountable for his actions in Henry's killing.
In October 2010, Hess fired several times into the 20-year-old Henry’s Nissan while on the hood of the car, killing the former Pace football player. Henry struck Hess with his car while leaving the fire lane outside of Finnegan’s Bar & Grill in Thornwood after an altercation broke out in the bar. Hess was not indicted on any criminal charges related to the incident.