By: Giovanni Zaburoni
Leadership within the New York Police Department says procedures on how to handle the mentally ill were not followed when officers were called to the house of a 66-year-old Bronx woman who was acting erratically, according to the New York Daily News. Police were called to Deborah Danner’s home by a witness who saw her carrying a pair of scissors in the hallway of her apartment. Officers had been called to Danner’s home four times over the past several years by concerned neighbors who realized she wasn’t taking medication for her mental condition.
Five police officers and a patrol sergeant responded to the call this time and when they arrived, they found Danner with her scissors. Police say she eventually put down the scissors and picked up a baseball bat. When she attempted to hit the patrol sergeant, who has been identified as Sgt. Hugh Barry, he pulled out his gun and shot her twice in the torso. According to the Daily Mail, the sergeant had a Taser, but didn’t use it. Officers tried to save her life on the scene, but she did not survive.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill told reporters, “We do have policies and procedures for emotionally disturbed people and it appears those procedures weren’t followed. Our policy is isolate and contain. What’s clear in this instance is that we failed. It’s distressing to me the incident ended up this way. We are going to investigate this.” New York Mayor Bill De Blasio also issued a statement via social media saying, “We’re determined to get to the bottom of what happened and won’t rest until we do.” The Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. says the cops used excessive force in this case. “Tonight’s shooting of a mentally disturbed, 66-year-old woman in the 43rd Precinct is an outrage, especially given the New York Police Department’s knowledge of this woman’s history and the police officer’s possession of a stun gun. This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun. That is totally unacceptable.”
Wallace Cooke Jr. is Danner’s Cousin and a former member of the NYPD. He says he would have handled the situation differently. “The other more simple thing they could’ve done is just close the goddamn door. It’s as simple as that. Where was she going? Close the door. She didn’t have no gun.”
Sgt. Barry has been stripped of his badge and gun and this shooting is under investigation.