Attorney General Won't Investigate Deadly NYPD Shooting of Mentally Ill Bronx Woman

The NYPD sergeant and eight-year department veteran who shot Deborah Danner was placed on modified duty

What to Know

  • Deborah Danner, 66, was shot and killed by a uniformed sergeant in her Bronx apartment Tuesday evening
  • The NYPD had been responding to a 911 call complaining about Danner, who was described as emotionally disturbed
  • Police are conducting an investigation into the shooting, including why a stun gun wasn't deployed

New York's attorney general will not investigate this week's deadly NYPD shooting of a mentally ill Bronx woman, saying a review of the evidence indicated the case falls outside the jurisdiction of his office.

Eric Schneiderman said Thursday "there is no question" the shooting of 66-year-old Deborah Danner should be investigated, but he said the probe does not fall under the purview of his office under a 2015 executive order allowing for a special prosecutor in police shootings "only under limited circumstances." 

"It is vital to note that this jurisdictional determination has no legal impact whatsoever on the ultimate question of whether or not a crime was committed, or whether the officer involved should be prosecuted," Schneiderman said, adding it is up to the Bronx district attorney to decide whether to bring a case.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said Thursday her office would "conduct a full, reasoned and independent investigation into this matter, with an open mind, and any decisions that I make will be based upon the evidence."

The development comes a day after top city officials, including the mayor and NYPD commissioner, condemned the fatal shooting as "unacceptable." 

Officers were called to Danner's seventh-floor apartment on Pugsley Avenue Tuesday after a neighbor called 911 to report a disturbance. NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry, an eight-year department veteran, encountered the schizophrenic woman in her bedroom; she was naked and armed with scissors. He persuaded her to put down the scissors but as he was coaxing her out of the room, she picked up the baseball bat and charged him. Barry fired two shots, killing her. 

Both NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill and Mayor de Blasio have pledged a thorough investigation into the shooting. In the meantime, Barry has been placed on modified duty, stripped of his gun and his badge. 

O'Neill said Wednesday it was evident some NYPD protocols around mentally ill suspects were not followed in Danner's case. The investigation will focus on a number of factors, including why Barry did not deploy his stun gun. 

"What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened," O'Neill said. 

De Blasio said Wednesday the sergeant who shot Danner was among the thousands of cops who received proper training as it relates to the mentally ill. 

"Something went horribly wrong here," the mayor said. "It's quite clear our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation and it's very hard for any of us to see that that standard was met here." 

"Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period," de Blasio added. "If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It's as simple as that." 

Dozens of people called for justice for Danner in a march Wednesday night through the streets of Castle Hill. On Thursday, dozens of mourners gathered outside Danner's Bronx home to grieve and call for change. 

Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, said Barry was patient in trying to deescalate the situation. He said Barry was trying to convince Danner to leave the bedroom in a peaceful manner when she grabbed the bat, ignored his demands to drop it, and aimed the weapon at his head. 

"Fearing for his own life, as well as the lives of others, Sgt. Barry fired two shots from his service weapon and mortally wounded Ms. Danner," Mullins said in a statement. "Sgt. Hugh Barry, an eight-year department veteran with an exemplary record, took immediate charge of the situation. As a frontline supervisor, it is his responsibility to do so." 

Barry has been the subject of two lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 alleging brutality, according to court records. The first was settled for $25,000 and the second for $10,000.

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