Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to the Justice Department Tuesday demanding a new investigation into the 2010 police killing of 20-year-old Danroy “DJ” Henry, Jr., a day after Markey was criticized by the family for not doing enough to support their cause.
On Monday, Henry’s father, Danroy Henry Sr., posted a video on Twitter saying that Markey was dismissive of the family’s call for an investigation in the years after their son’s death. Henry told WGBH News that he and his wife met with Markey at a restaurant in 2012 but the senator “took no notes and asked only one question. ... We felt that we were putting him out while he ate his lunch."
Monday evening, Markey issued an apologyfor not doing more to support the Henry family.
On Tuesday, he doubled down, demandingin a letter to Attorney General William Barr and other state and federal officials that they “take immediate action to conduct a renewed, thorough, and transparent investigation into the death of Danroy ‘DJ’ Henry, Jr.”
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DJ Henry, who was Black, was shot and killed by a white Pleasantville, N.Y., police officer while he was in his car, unarmed, outside a nightclub where police were responding to a disturbance that had nothing to do with Henry or the friends he was with. He was 20 years old.
A grand jury declined to file charges against officer Aaron Hess, and the Justice Department declined to reopen the case several years ago. Markey pointed out that in civil litigation since then, new evidence has emerged that casts doubt on the official police report of the incident, which maintained that Henry was driving his car aggressively toward Hess, justifying the use of lethal force by the officer.
Markey’s letter also points out that he had requested a similar comprehensive review of the case in a letter to the Justice Department in 2014.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the ensuing wave of Black Lives Matter protests, several celebrities and other public figures have called on the Justice Department to reopen the case.
And in the heat of an extremely competitive Senate race, Markey is under pressure from Black activists to do more.
Danroy Henry, Sr., said he is supporting Rep. Joe Kennedy III, (D-Mass.) who is challenging Markey in a primary.
Four Black community representatives in Western and Central Massachusetts, including Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst, issued a statement early Tuesday calling Markey’s apology to the Henry family “insufficient.”
“This country and Commonwealth deserve better than elected officials who act to protect Black lives only when their political career is on the line," they wrote.
But Markey also has the support of several prominent leaders of color, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez., N.J. Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts state Sen. Sonia Chang Díaz, and Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera.