New York, NY (Sputnik)– New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as Police Commissioner James O’Neill, are condemning the fatal police shooting on Tuesday of a 66-year-old schizophrenic Black Lives Matter protester wielding a baseball bat.
Deborah Danner was shot twice by sergeant and eight-year NYPD veteran Hugh Barry, who both the mayor and police commissioner say did not follow protocol for dealing with a person who is emotionally disturbed.
Police were called to Danner’s 7th floor apartment in the Bronx after receiving a report about the woman acting irrationally. When officers arrived, Danner was naked in her bedroom, wielding a pair of scissors.
Barry convinced Danner to drop the scissors, but instead she picked up a baseball bat and “attempted to strike him.” The sergeant then opened fire, hitting her twice in her torso. She was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after.
“What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened,” O’Neill told ABC New York. “We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”
Barry was carrying a taser, which he did not attempt to use before deadly force.
Danner has had other run-ins with the NYPD, who have previously safely taken her to the hospital, with the help of her sister, Jennifer. Her sister was present during this incident, expecting to again assist authorities in escorting the disturbed woman to the hospital.
“She said she’d seen it done the right way and expected it to be done that way this time as well,” de Blasio said of Danner’s sister. “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.”
The mayor did not hold back with his criticism of the officer’s actions.
“Something went horribly wrong here,” the mayor stated. “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.”
The police union, naturally, is defending the officer.
“Fearing for his own life, as well as the lives of others, Sgt. Barry fired two shots from his service weapon and mortally wounded Ms. Danner,” Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, said in a statement. “He immediately ordered medical treatment for her, unfortunately to no avail. Sgt. Hugh Barry, an eight-year department veteran with an exemplary record, took immediate charge of the situation. As a frontline supervisor, it is his responsibility to do so.”
Barry has been placed on modified duty pending an investigation into the incident. He had previously completed training specifically on how to handle people with mental illness. “Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period,” de Blasio said. “If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It’s as simple as that.”