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NYPD sergeant charged in shooting death of Deborah Danner

Posted at 12:24 PM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 23:14:45-04

CASTLE HILL, the Bronx — An NYPD sergeant is facing charges in the death of Deborah Danner, a woman with a history of mental illness who was shot at her Bronx home last year, police sources confirmed Wednesday.

Sgt. Hugh Barry was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter Wednesday for fatally shooting Danner, 66, on Oct. 18, 2016.

The day Danner was killed, the NYPD had been called about an "emotionally disturbed person" inside a seventh-floor apartment on Pugsley Avenue and encountered the woman holding scissors in a bedroom, police said last year.

Barry, an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, convinced Danner to drop the scissors, but she then picked up a wooden bat, police said.

Danner allegedly “attempted to strike the sergeant,” who fired two shots in response, NYPD Asst. Chief Larry Nikunen, commanding Bronx officer, said at the time.

Barry had a stun gun but did not use it, according to the NYPD. He was initially placed on modified duty, and suspended following the announcement of charges.

Charges against Barry come nearly six months after the Bronx District Attorney said a grand jury would be called to investigate Danner's death.

The shooting prompted swift outcry from local officials, including NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, who said "we failed."

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the public alongside O'Neill a day after the shooting, saying it was "tragic and unacceptable."

"It should never have happened. It's as simple as that: it should never have happened. The NYPD's job is to protect life," de Blasio said.

The New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association came to Barry's defense Wednesday, saying the police union is outraged by the indictment.

“Police work is not an exact science, often requiring split second decision-making in the midst of hostile and life-threatening situations," the union said in a statement. "Sgt. Barry did what the law allows and what the Department trained him to do."

Additionally, the union said the "inflammatory" statement de Blasio and O'Neill had "undoubtedly tainted the grand jury pool and denied any semblance of due process."

SBA president Ed Mullins said he "strong believes" Barry will be found not guilty.