THORNWOOD, N.Y. – Four college football players who were arrested after their teammate was shot and killed by police entered not-guilty pleas Thursday, then returned to the scene of the shooting to visit a makeshift memorial.
Accompanied by lawyers, the students looked silently for a few moments at flowers, a poem and a photo of Danroy Henry that were placed on the edge of the sidewalk of the Thornwood shopping center.
Henry, a 20-year-old Pace University student from Easton, Mass., was killed in the parking lot on Oct. 17 by police who fired through the windshield of his car. Officers were responding to a disturbance at a bar in the shopping center.
Police said Henry sped away and hit two officers after another officer knocked on his car window, an account that some witnesses have contradicted. The Westchester County district attorney is coordinating an investigation.
Henry's teammates, Daniel Parker of Lauderhill, Fla.; Joseph Garcia of Floral Park, N.Y.; Yves Delpeche of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Joseph Romanick of Slidell, La., were arraigned Thursday morning in Mount Pleasant Town Court.
Parker, Garcia and Delpeche, all 22, are accused of interfering with police attempts to provide medical aid to Henry after the shooting. Romanick, 21, is accused of breaking a store window at a bagel shop near the bar.
Parker, Garcia and Delpeche were charged with obstruction and Garcia was charged with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors dropped a charge of disorderly conduct against Parker and charged him with resisting arrest. A disorderly conduct charge against Delpeche was dropped.
Romanick is charged with criminal mischief.
Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the district attorney, said charges are often updated between arrest and arraignment as prosecutors examine evidence.
All four are due back in court on Dec. 16. Defense attorney Bonita Zelman tried to get the charges dismissed on the grounds that they were a cover-up for police brutality. She has alleged that Parker, Garcia and Delpeche were trying to help their teammate as he lay dying on the pavement. Garcia and Delpeche were subdued with stun guns, she said, and Parker and Romanick were beaten by police.
"It is an outrage that the district attorney cannot stand up here and do justice and dismiss these charges today," Zelman said in court. She said her clients had never been arrested before and should be relieved of "the cloud of criminal charges over their heads."
Town Judge Robert Ponzini said, "I get the gist," and gave her two weeks to file a motion to dismiss the charges. Zelman, who earlier in the week successfully argued against prosecutors' request for a two-week adjournment of the arraignments, said outside court that the delay was outrageous.
Police and prosecutors have denied the alleged brutality and say no complaint has been filed. Police acknowledge using a stun gun against Delpeche. During the court session, Assistant District Attorney Michael Borrelli invited Zelman to bring her brutality complaint to District Attorney Janet DiFiore, but Zelman said "I don't trust the district attorney."
The judge told Zelman that the question would be decided on evidence, "not necessarily by the arguments of the attorneys."