New York Police Department (NYPD) sergeant Hugh Barry shot and killed Deborah Danner, 66, in her apartment last night (October 18).
A neighbor called 911 to report that Danner was, as NYPD officials put it, “emotionally disturbed.” The victim’s sister, Jennifer Danner, was there. She expected officers to help take her sibling—who had schizophrenia—to the hospital, as they had on several previous occasions. But Barry, who has been with the NYPD for eight years, reports that he shot the Black woman in the torso two times because she charged at him with a baseball bat and he feared for his life.
“[Jennifer Danner] said she’d seen it done the right way and expected it to be done that way this time as well. You can only imagine the pain she feels having had to stand there and hear the shots fired and the recognition coming over her that she had lost her sister,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told press this morning. “Something went horribly wrong here. It’s quite clear our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation and it’s very hard for any of us to see that that standard was met here.”
Officer Barry had a Taser, but opted to use his gun.
“That’s not what was supposed to happen. That’s not how we’re trained,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill told press this morning (October 19), per The New York Times. NBC-4 reports that he went on to say: “What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened.” He continued, “We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”
Barry has been placed on modified duty pending an investigation. One year ago, the NYPD announced a new use of force policy that then-chief William Bratton promised would pave the way for transparent investigations.
Per The Washington Post’s tally, Danner is the 771st person killed by American police officers this year. Fully 182 of them (23.6 percent) were suffering from a mental health crisis at the time of their deaths. She is the 188th Black person to die as the result of police violence in 2016.