NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An NYPD sergeant who fatally shot an emotionally disturbed woman in the Bronx has been arrested.
There were strong reactions from both sides on Wednesday as Sergeant Hugh Barry faces murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in the death of Deborah Danner.
“This young man killed her, he should be in jail,” Danner’s cousin, Wallace Cooke, Jr. told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
Cooke says the indictment could not come soon enough against Barry, who is accused of shooting and killing his cousin.
“All he had to do was close the damn door and walk away but he wanted to show his manhood using his pistol on her,” Cooke said.
Barry — who insists he did nothing wrong — has also been suspended from the NYPD, where he had been on modified duty since the shooting. He was in court in the Bronx to face murder charges on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Barry was not following proper procedure when he entered the apartment.
“On that date Sergeant Barry failed to get critical background information about Ms. Danner’s condition or behavior. Sergeant Barry disregarded his training from the New York City Police Department in dealing with emotionally disturbed persons, by rushing into Ms. Danner’s apartment,” the prosecutor said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill both spoke out against Barry’s actions immediately after the shooting. De Blasio called the shooting tragic and unacceptable.
“It should never have happened,” de Blasio said a day after the deadly shooting. “The NYPD’s job is to protect life.”
O’Neill said the NYPD failed and that some proper procedures weren’t followed, including using the Taser which Barry was carrying.
The prosecutor said when Barry entered the room, Danner was sitting on her bed holding scissors.
“In my view, this is stunning,” defense attorney Andrew Quinn said Wednesday.
Supporters, including those from the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the union which represents Barry, came to his defense.
“Ms. Danner had a well-chronicled history of violence and mental illness,” the SBA said. “Sgt. Barry took immediate charge of the situation by convincing Ms. Danner to put down a pair of scissors that she was gripping tightly in her hands. However, rather than leave the apartment, Ms. Danner ran back into the bedroom and grabbed a baseball bat.”
The SBA said Danner “refused repeated orders to drop the bat and swung it directly at Sgt. Barry’s head.”
That’s when Barry opened fire, shooting her twice, the SBA said.
The SBA said it is “outraged” by Barry’s indictment, adding he has “an exemplary record.”
Other police unions criticized de Blasio and O’Neill for their criticism, saying they rushed to judgment.
The SBA said that de Blasio and O’Neill’s statements “undoubtedly tainted the jury pool and denied any semblance of due process for Sgt. Barry by supplanting public opinion and putting a judicial expectation in the minds of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the grand jurors.”
“This is an absolute disgrace,” said SBA President Ed Mullins. “The fact is that Sgt. Barry did everything right, He responded to the scene, took immediate charge, and de-escalated the situation by convincing the woman to put the scissors down. He was well within his rights to take the action that he did, even though that was the last thing he – or any police officer – would ever want to do.”
A grand jury report said Barry did not use other options before using deadly force, and the question has been raised — why didn’t he use a taser?
“It’s called a patrol guide. It’s some rules to follow and procedures to try to follow, but it’s a guide, not a law, and according to law Sergeant Barry acted according to the law Mullins said.
Neighbors at Danner’s Castle Hill apartment building reacted Monday to the news that Barry had been indicted.
“It’s unfortunate all around really,” one neighbor told CBS2. “It really is. Just all around.”
Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement regarding the charges.
“The arrest of the NYPD sergeant charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner is a good step in a long walk to justice,” Rev. Al Sharpton said, adding that his group has called for “an overhaul in police training and a review of those qualified to become police officers.”
“We cannot return to a city of Eleanor Bumpurs-type shootings that we fought many years ago in the same borough,” he added.
But Mullins countered that Barry has become a political pawn, and blasted the commissioner.
“His reaction triggered the mayor into a 48 hour tirade. Ultimately, I believe, it impacted a jury pool here in the Bronx,” Mullins said.
Danner’s family was not in court, but their supporters said they hope justice is served.
“What we have to get to is a situation where, police officers, when they’re charged with crimes, are treated the same way that any other person is treated,” Neville Mitchell said.
The mayor released a statement Wednesday saying they have faith the District Attorney will lead a full and thorough prosecution.
Barry was released on $100,000 bail and is due back in court on July 7th.