By all accounts, neighbors and NYPD cops knew Deborah Danner, 66, suffered from mental illness. The police had been to her Bronx apartment multiple times in the past when she displayed erratic behavior. According to one resident, they even removed her from the premises while she was in a straight jacket in one encounter. However, last Tuesday, her behavior would result in her being shot dead by police.
Police responded to a neighbor’s complaint that once again Danner was acting erratically at around 6:30 p.m. When they arrived, they found her holding a pair of scissors and making threats in her bedroom. Police convinced her to drop the scissors but then the officers said she picked up a baseball bat and came towards them. That’s when NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry fired his service weapon. According to Assistant Chief Larry Nikunen, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Bronx, “As she attempted to strike the sergeant, he fired two shots from his service revolver, striking her in the torso.”
Danner was taken to Jacobi Hospital where she died at 7:15 p.m. from her injuries. Now, people are asking why the officer used his gun instead of his taser. Nikunen went on to say during a press conference, “The sergeant was armed with a taser. It was not deployed, and the reason it was not deployed will be part of the investigation and review.”
Politicians are now sounding off about the shooting. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called the shooting unacceptable and stated to media, “This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun.”
The shooting has many remembering the tragic police killing of mentally ill senior citizen Eleanor Bumpers in 1984. During that encounter, Bumpers, who needed assistance in walking, was shot while holding a knife and threatening officers in her apartment. Many have stated that Bumpers was murdered by uncaring officers in that encounter. For now, Sgt. Barry has been placed on modified desk duty and stripped of his gun and shield, pending the outcome of the investigation.