NYPD Officer Who Fatally Shot Schizophrenic Woman Placed On Modified Duty

The NYPD is questioning the actions of their own after the shooting death of a mentally unsound Bronx woman.

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According to NBC News, Deborah Danner was shot by Sgt. Hugh Barry Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 18) when she reportedly attempted to strike him with a bat. A neighbor of the 66-year-old called 911 after hearing loud cries from her apartment. After the officer arrived Danner was seen wielding a pair of scissors, naked. After Barry successfully talked Danner into putting down the scissors, but she later picked up a bat. Danner was shot twice in the torso and pronounced dead at a local hospital. Danner was reportedly schizophrenic and had several emotional incidents in the past.

The NYPD confirmed Barry has been a member of the force for eight years. Democratic State Sen. Ruben Diaz raised questions about the use of force and why training on mentally unstable civilians wasn’t implemented.”To me, it is very difficult to understand how a woman who is [66] years old and has emotional problems should have to die like this, especially if there are four or five police officers in the room with her,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Police Commissioner James O’Neill confessed Wednesday (Oct. 19) they “failed” to handle the incident in a proper manner. “What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened,” O’Neill said. “We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”

For now, the officer will be placed on modified duty, pending an investigation. The state attorney general’s office will also determine if the incident will fall under the observation of special prosecutor Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Danner’s cousin, retired NYPD officer Wallace Cooke Jr., said the police heavily documented her condition due to phone calls by neighbors. “They have been here numerous, numerous times over the years,” she said. “Debbie was sick since she was in college. [They] have to do a better job of handling mental illness.”

Barry was said to have a Taser at the time of the shooting but tragically didn’t use it. He and the rest of the NYPD do not wear body cameras. A body camera pilot program was announced in 2014, but device delays have slowed down the process.

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