NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials had a stunning and unusual reaction in the wake of a deadly police shooting.
It started Tuesday night, with a call about an emotionally disturbed woman, and ended with her death.
Both the mayor and the police chief said Deborah Danner, 66, should be alive right now.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, in most cases involving questionable actions by cops city officials say they want to reserve judgement until an investigation is complete.
In this case heartsick officials said they just don’t understand how a cop who received special training and who had a number of other options used his gun to stop an emotionally disturbed woman.
“The shooting of Deborah Danner is tragic and it is unacceptable. It should never have happened. The NYPD’s job is to protect life,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“What is clear in this one instance, we failed,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.
Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill held separate press conferences to raise questions and condem the actions of Sergeant Hugh Barry in his deadly confrontation with an emotionally disturbed Bronx woman — a schizophrenic — whose erratic behavior brought police to her apartment on several occasions.
Barry, a specially trained 8-year veteran had, they said, ample options and procedures at his disposal — short of firing at the woman who was swinging a baseball bat.
He could have fired a taser to stop her.
“It looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed. Why he didn’t use the taser will be part of the investigation,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said the officer received special training in either 2014 or 2015 in how to de-escalate these situations. The training also calls for a specially trained emergency service unite to be called. It was on the way, he could also have called for a hostage negotiating unit.
“Our officers are only supposed to use dire force only when faced with dire situations, and it’s very hard to see if that standard was met here,” de Blasio said.
Officials said there have been over 128,000 situations where emotionally disturbed people have been dealt with this year — all successfully.
“We will fully investigate this situation and cooperate fully with any prosecutorial agency,” the mayor said.
Police union officials were furious about the rush to judgement.
“Being forced to shoot a civilian under any circumstances is traumatic for police officers,” Sergeants Union, President, Ed Mullins said, “But to be immediately vilified based on innuendo and the social and political climate only compounds the tragedy.”
But did the mayor’s comments deny Barry his due process and a fair investigation of his actions?
“We did fail and we need to say it out loud, and the people deserve to hear it and there will be due process and there’s not contradiction. We owe it to the people of the city when we know something went wrong to say what went wrong and be transparent about it,” de Blasio said.
O’Neill said if the investigation points out needed changes they will be made.
He also issued a warning to his cops, saying procedures are put in place for a reason and “need to be followed.”