Sixty-six year-old Deborah Danner of the Bronx, NY had a life-long battle with mental illness and was well-known to the NYPD. During a mental illness episode yesterday, the NYPD was called to her home. Upon arrival at her apartment, Ms. Danner was holding a scissors in her hand. The supervising officer in the group of several officers that encountered Ms. Danner was Sergeant Hugh Barry. Officer Barry was able to calm Ms. Danner down and convinced her to put down the scissors. After putting the scissors down, Officer Barry went to secure the weapon. As he got to the scissors, Ms. Danner allegedly swung a baseball bat at Officer Barry’s head. That’s when Officer Barry shot Ms. Danner, hitting her with at least two bullets that took her life.
Officer Hugh Barry has been placed on modified duty, and was stripped of his badge and gun. According to NYPD officials, they’re investigating why Mr. Barry did not use a stun-gun he had in his possession and was trained to use. New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, has called the shooting “tragic and unacceptable,” and the city’s police commissioner, James P. O’Neill said, “What is clear in this one instance: We failed.” Both men stated that Officer Barry failed to adhere to the NYPD’s rules in regards to dealing with a mentally ill person.
Deborah Danner had suffered with mental illness since she was in college but according to several people that knew her, they said she wasn’t a violent person. In a chilling essay Ms. Danner wrote in 2015 and given to a lawyer who was helping her, she said “We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead.” Unfortunately Ms. Danner’s poignant words came to fruition and is now deceased because as Mayor de Blasio put it, “Sergeant Barry should have waited for more specialized officers to respond to the scene.”