An NYPD sergeant has been charged with murder stemming from the shooting last October of an emotionally disturbed Bronx woman whom police were trying to get to a hospital for evaluation, officials said Wednesday.
Sgt. Hugh Barry, 31, of Westchester, surrendered Wednesday to facecharges of second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide in the death of Deborah Danner, 66, when he and other cops about 6 p.m. on Oct. 18 responded to a call of an emotionally disturbed person at a Pugsley Avenue home in the Castle Hill section, said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark.
In a prepared statement, Clark said a special grand jury had investigated the case for more than two months. She said that Barry, who was placed on modified duty after the shooting and suspended without pay by the NYPD after his arrest, could face up to life in prison if convicted. An NYPD spokesman said the suspension would run for at least 30 days and that Barry wouldn’t perform any police duties.
During Danner’s confrontation with the officers, she refused to go with them to the hospital for evaluation and held a pair of scissors and a wooden bat in the direction of Barry who then shot her twice, Clark said.
“The investigation revealed that, based on these circumstances and his training, Barry did not avail himself of other options before using deadly force,” Clark stated. Law enforcement officials said Barry did have access to a taser device that he could have used instead of the firearm.
At his arraignment Wednesday before Bronx State Supreme Court Judge Robert Neary, Barry entered a not-guilty plea. Assistant District Attorney Wanda Perez-Maldonado had asked that bail be set at $500,000, an amount defense attorney Andrew Quinn called “laughable” in light of his client’s previously unblemished record over eight years as a cop.
Neary released Barry on $100,000 bail. In arguing for higher bail, Perez-Maldonado said Danner had lived alone for 30 years and was a paranoid schizophrenic. Police had responded to her home on previous occasions, the prosecutor said.
Perez-Maldonado alleged that Barry had failed to seek critical background information on the woman or use his training for dealing with an emotional disturbed person. The prosecutor noted that Danner had not taken her medication and created the hallway disturbance that prompted the call to police.
In court, Quinn said there was “extraordinary evidence” that would help defend Barry. The attorney didn’t elaborate.
Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, told Newsday Wednesday that he believed Barry “was wrongfully indicted” and said the charges were “political.” Mullins said that after the shooting, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said Barry’s actions represented a “failure,” a characterization the union leader believed tainted any potential jurors for Barry’s case.
Outside the courthouse, Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, lauded Clark’s action in calling for the special grand jury and said her action “sent the message out that no more black blood will spill on Bronx streets.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement saying: “The loss of Deborah Danner was a tragedy felt deeply by our city. Now that the grand jury has made its decision, we have full faith in the district attorney to lead a fair and thorough prosecution.”
With Maria Alvarez