PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Can a police officer who shot a man police say was drunk blame a liquor store for causing the incident? That is the question raised by the lawsuit that Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess has brought against Briarcliff Wine & Liquors in relation to Hess' shooting and killing of 20-year-old Pace University student Danroy "DJ" Henry Jr.
The lawsuit states that the liquor store bears responsiblity for the incident for selling alcohol to the underage Henry.
"He's within his rights to file this lawsuit, but police officers are there to uphold the law and to bring a lawsuit against an establishment like this is kind of peculiar," said Bennett Gershman, a professor at Pace University Law School and former prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney's office,
Gershman, who has no connection with the case despite the fact that he teaches at Pace University, said the lawsuit brought by officer Hess is awkward.
Hess and his attorney, Mitchell Baker, believe that the incident occurred because of Henry's presumptive intoxication and it would have never happened if the store did not sell the alcohol to the minor.
"In theory, the lawsuit makes sense, but I believe it will be difficult to be successful," Gershman said.
In order to prove that the liquor store was liable in this case, Gershman said there were many factors to consider. These factors range from the possible negligence of the liquor store to the proper protocol of the police officers at the scene.
To win his case, Baker may have to first prove that he has the correct business. Published reports have said that Briarcliff Wine & Liquors may not have been the store that sold Henry his alcohol. Baker dismisses that claim.
"We conducted an investigation that revealed it was Briarcliff Wine & Liquors and I stand by our findings," Baker said. "Did anyone ever think that they possibly could have gone to more than one liquor store that evening?"
As for possibly suing the wrong liquor store, Gershman added it could be backbreaking to the case, and joked at the possibility.
"A lot of research goes into lawsuits like this and if they were to have the wrong business that would be pretty embarrassing," Gershman said.
Could a liquor store bear responsiblity in this case? Comment below or on The Daily Pleasantville page on Facebook.