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A Cop Just Got Charged with Murder for Killing a Mentally Ill Woman

NYPD sergeant Hugh Barry said he acted in self-defense when he shot 66-year-old Deborah Danner in her NYC apartment last year.

by Lauren Messman
May 31 2017, 7:53pm

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press via AP

Sergeant Hugh Barry, the NYPD supervisor who fatally shot a mentally ill woman in her Bronx apartment last October, was arrested on Wednesday, the New York Times reports.

Barry's arrest follows a months-long investigation into the death of 66-year-old Deborah Danner, who was shot by police after they received calls from a neighbor complaining about disturbing behavior. Barry said he acted in self-defense—that Danner had swung a baseball bat at the him after previously brandishing scissors, an account the NYPD initially seemed to buy. But both the mayor and the police commissioner have since said the cop did not follow proper protocol, and should have used his Taser or waited for a specialized unit to help.

"It should never have happened," Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the shooting. "The NYPD's job is to protect life."

The eight-year police veteran was quickly stripped of his badge and placed on reduced duty after the incident, and Darcel Clark, the Bronx district attorney, began an investigation into the case. On Wednesday, Clark's spokeswoman said Barry was being indicted. He's since been suspended from the force, and charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide, according to one police official.

"It is important to determine exactly what happened in this tragic incident," Clark said back in December. "There is no timetable for the grand jury to be impaneled or for it to reach a determination."

Predictably, the president of the Sergeant's Benevolent Association (SBA)—the union representing Barry—lammed the decision.

"The fact is that Sgt. Barry did everything right," SBA president Ed Mullins said. "He was well within his rights to take the action that he did, even though it was the last thing he—or any police officer—would ever want to do."

Barry was scheduled to appear in court at 3 PM on Wednesday. Regardless of how his case plays out, he is already one of the very few cops to be charged with murder in connection with the killing of a civilian in American history.

mental illness
New York
bill de blasio
police brutality
Unarmed Shooting
Sergeants Benevolent Association
Deborah Danner
hugh barry