More than six months after fatally shooting Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old woman with schizophrenia, in her Bronx apartment, New York Police Department Sgt. Hugh Barry was arrested and charged on Wednesday for his role in her death.
Barry was charged with second-degree murder, first and second-degree manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide, an official told The New York Times on Wednesday. He was also suspended without pay, according to the source.
Danner was killed on October 18, 2016 after police officers responding to a report of an “emotionally disturbed” woman found her naked in her home, holding a pair of scissors. At the time, police said the officers persuaded Danner to put down the scissors but then she picked up a baseball bat and charged at Barry, who fired two shots with his service pistol, hitting her in the torso. NYPD’s protocol for dealing with mentally ill people specifics that officers should first attempt to subdue the person using a stun gun, which he was carrying at the time.
Hours after the shooting, Barry had been stripped of his badge and put on modified duty.
His arrest comes after the state attorney general declined to pursue a formal inquiry into Danner’s death, leaving Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to take over the investigation and push ahead with a grand jury.
Danner’s death prompted a swift and furious backlash against the NYPD, with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. calling her killing an “outrage.”
“This elderly woman was known to the police department,” Diaz Jr. said in a statement at the the time. “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.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on Danner’s death, saying, “It never should have happened.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill also criticized the police over the shooting, telling reporters at a press conference shortly after Danner’s death: “We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people, and it looks like that some of those procedures weren’t followed.”
“What is clear in this one instance,” O’Neill continued, “we failed.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association, the police sergeants union, criticized New York City’s leadership, saying O’Neill and de Blasio “displayed blatant vitriol and lack of leadership” in the statements they made following Danner’s death.
“Instead, they immediately poisoned the well, supplanting in the hearts and minds of a gullible public, the grand jury pool, and Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark that a crime had occurred,” the statement read.
Barry is expected to appear in court this afternoon, according to the Times.