An NYPD sergeant was found not guilty in the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner, a mentally ill woman, in 2016, a Bronx judge ruled Thursday.
Sgt. Hugh Barry, who had been accused of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, was found not guilty of all charges by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary in the death of Deborah Danner, 66.
Barry, an NYPD veteran of eight years, was responding to a 911 call about someone acting erratically at Danner’s Castle Hill apartment on Oct. 18, 2016, when he came face-to-face with her in a bedroom. Danner, who was a paranoid schizophrenic, was naked and wielding scissors, which Barry was able to persuade her to put down.
As Barry tried to get Danner to leave the room, she charged at him with a baseball bat. Barry, who also had a Taser in his possession, fired two shots from his weapon, striking her in the torso. She later died at a nearby hospital.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill immediately condemned the shooting, with the mayor saying at the time that it “never should have happened” and O’Neill adding, “We failed.”
Barry chose to have a non-jury trial and testified this week that he used his weapon and not the Taser because Danner was swinging the bat at his head “and that’s when I fired,” he said. “I’m looking at this bat that can crack me in the head and kill me.”
According to The New York Times, Officer Camilo Rosario testified that Danner was not wielding the bat when Barry fired. Testimony from other officers indicated Rosario was the only one who had a clear view of the shooting.
“There is no victory here today, only relief that justice has been served and a good man who was doing a difficult and dangerous job has been exonerated,” Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, tweeted.
In a statement, the Communities United for Police Reform said the following statement from spokespeople Monifa Bandele (Vice President & Chief Partnership and Equity Officer at MomsRising.org) and Rama Issa-Ibrahim (Executive Director of Arab American Association of New York).
“This verdict is another injustice perpetrated in the unjust killing of Deborah Danner, with the criminal justice system once again failing to hold a police officer accountable," the Communities for Police Reform said in a statement. "The continued killings of New Yorkers in emotional distress by police are at chronic levels during Mayor de Blasio’s tenure, seemingly occurring once every couple of months, and there is an unacceptable disconnect with the apparent investment in mental health resources touted by this administration. Police officers should not be in charge during these situations, and the testimony during this trial makes clear that Ms. Danner — like many others in similar distress — did not want to deal with police officers within her own home. Since the mayor and police commissioner argued Sgt. Barry failed to follow protocol, and doing so led to his killing Ms. Danner, the NYPD should expeditiously fire Sgt. Barry.”
A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city by Danner’s family.