BRONX, N.Y. – An NYPD sergeant shot and killed a 66-year-old emotionally disturbed woman who attempted to strike the officer with a baseball bat on Tuesday in the Bronx. Now, questions were raised as to why he did not de-escalate the situation and use his Taser instead of a gun.
It all started when a neighbor complained about a mentally ill woman, Deborah Danner, in Castle Hill, NY Daily News reported.
— stacia l. brown (@slb79) October 20, 2016
Among the first responders was Sgt. Hugh Barry, who found Danner in a bedroom holding a pair of scissors and threatening cops. Barry engaged her in a conversation and persuaded her to put down the scissors. She then approached the sergeant as she grabbed a baseball bat and attempted to strike him. The sergeant fired twice and struck her in the torso, said Assistant Chief Larry Nikunen, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Bronx.
Danner was immediately taken to Jacobi Hospital but did not survive.
It was not clear why the officer opted to use his gun. “The sergeant was armed with a Taser. It was not deployed, and the reason it was not deployed will be part of the investigation and review,” Nikunen said.
Cops had been in Danner’s place before because of previous reports of outbursts, authorities said. And because of that police were aware of her mental condition.
“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,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said.
Public Advocate Letitia James called for an investigation Tuesday night and said, “While we are still learning details about this evening’s incident, I am renewing my call to expand the use of non-lethal use of force by the NYPD,” James said.
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Mayor de Blasio tweeted after saying he had been briefed on the situation, “We’re determined to get to the bottom of what happened and won’t rest until we do.”
We’re determined to get to the bottom of what happened and won’t rest until we do. https://t.co/jPT1U4fX1H
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) October 19, 2016
Danner’s neighbor said that she was known for her strange behavior and police had to take her out of the apartment several times. Her dramatic decline was brought by her mother’s death several years ago.
“She was hollering, screaming and spitting, and you would have thought this lady was possessed, but I knew she was mentally unbalanced,” neighbor Raphelle Gundy said. Although Danner lived alone, “This lady was talking like she was battling somebody.” The noise coming from the apartment was so loud that neighbors often thought she was fighting with someone else inside.
Barry was placed on modified duty, stripped of his weapon and protection, pending the outcome of the investigation, an NYPD spokesman confirmed.
The president of the NYPD Sergeants, Ed Mullins, saying that the shooting was justified and calling the move “political,” criticized that decision.
“Everyone agrees that this is a good shooting,” Mullins said. “Everyone up at the scene, in the precinct, and when I say everyone, I’m going up the food chain as far as the brass goes.”
“We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people, and it looks like that some of those procedures weren’t followed,” Commissioner O’Neill said during a speech to the Citizens Crime Commission in Manhattan. “What is clear in this one instance is we failed.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also said deadly force should only be used in dire situations and “The shooting of Deborah Danner is tragic, and it should never have happened. It’s as simple as that.”