The lawyer for the family of a college football player shot by police outside a suburban bar asked the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday to conduct an investigation into the student's death.
Michael Sussman also sent a letter to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore asking her to make a joint request, saying the investigation into the death of Danroy Henry shouldn't be conducted by local authorities. He cited a recent leak of unreleased autopsy information.
Henry was shot in his car on Oct. 17 after police responded to a disturbance outside a bar in Thornwood, a New York City suburb. Police say Henry, a Pace University student from Easton, Mass., sped away and hit two officers after a policeman knocked on his car window. His family says witnesses contradict that account.
In his letter to DiFiore, Sussman pointed to the leak to the media about Henry's blood-alcohol level at the time of his death. A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Friday that it was measured during his autopsy at 0.13, above the legal limit of .08. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the autopsy report hadn't been released.
Sussman said the leak demonstrated "either incompetence or maliciousness."
"Whether the leak came from your office, the police agency or a third party with information is irrelevant to me," he said in his letter.
He went on to say that the leak, which occurred before Henry's family received any autopsy information, "is inexcusable and an obvious and deeply misguided effort to assassinate the character of my client and prejudge the case."
DiFiore's spokesman said the office had received the letter and is planning to respond.
A dispatcher for Mount Pleasant police, who also are investigating the shooting, said no one was available to comment late Monday on Sussman's claims.
Sussman said the circumstances of the shooting require an investigation to determine if racial bias or stereotyping played a role. The officers who fired at Henry's car are white; Henry's family is biracial.
The Justice Department said it is monitoring the local investigation, consistent with its general practice. The Department could not immediately confirm if a letter from Sussman had been received.