A Journal News editorial
April 15, 2011
From The Journal News: “Pleasantville’s finest must be vying for a new moniker — “most gratuitous and antagonistic.” What else explains the Police Benevolent Association’s selection of Aaron Hess — he shot and killed Pace University student Danroy “D.J.” Henry in October — as Officer of the Year? However sympathetic Hess may be to fellow officers, the union should have seen the designation for what it plainly is: an unnecessary provocation.
The top honor has enraged friends and family of Henry, whose controversial death remains the subject of a U.S. Justice Department inquiry, and multi-million-dollar civil litigation as well. A Westchester County grand jury in February cleared police of criminal wrongdoing, but questions remain about what happened Oct. 17, when Henry was shot amid a chaotic scene outside a Thornwood bar. Because grand juries conduct their work in secret, most details about the circumstances have not yet been made public. Henry supporters contend the use of deadly force was unjustified . “They can throw whatever party they want and award him however they choose,” Henry’s father, Dan Henry, told The Journal News. “But they run the risk of having to reconcile this award with the fact Hess could be convicted of a federal crime.”
Ironically, the award recognizes the “dignified and professional manner” in which Hess has conducted himself. The PBA, however, must have known its unanimous pick would inflame tensions. Officer Matthew Listwan, the union chief, said the award was never intended to be made public; he was at a loss to explain how word got out. Eternal silence would not have changed the score: the PBA move was cold, classless and crass.”