NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry testified in his own defense Tuesday in his trial in the 2016 shooting death of an emotionally disturbed Bronx woman.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Barry walked out of a Bronx courtroom Tuesday after taking the stand in a case that has roiled the city. Barry is charged with murder, first-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of 66-year-old Deborah Danner.
In October of 2016, officers responded to a home after receiving calls of an emotionally disturbed person and encountered Danner, who suffered from schizophrenia, with scissors in her hand.
After convincing her to drop the scissors, Danner then picked up a bat and started swinging. Barry fired his service weapon twice and shot and killed her.
Barry told the judge Tuesday that he feared for his life after Danner grabbed the bat. He said he had no choice.
“I just see the bat swinging and that’s when I fired,” Barry said. “I’m looking at this bat that can crack me in the head and kill me.”
Sergeants’ Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins described the emotional testimony.
“He had seconds to make a decision. He described Deborah Danner holding a baseball bat in a batter’s position, taking a step forward. In a split second, he fired two shots,” Mullins said. “It was either he fired two shots to terminate the threat, or we would be standing her talking about an officer who had a fractured skull or possibly even killed.”
Andrew Quinn is Barry’s attorney. Kramer asked Quinn why he decided to put Barry on the stand.
“It’s a justification case,” Quinn said. “In a justification case, you almost always testify.”
Barry was sent to the scene after a 911 call that a mentally ill woman was creating a disturbance at a Castle Hill, the Bronx apartment building.
Prosecutors questioned Barry about why he did not choose another option besides the use of deadly force, such as a Taser.
Kramer tried unsuccessfully to talk to Barry’s wife after his testimony. Meanwhile, a Danner supporter did offer comment.
“It was disturbing. It brought home everything we heard the day after she was shot,” said James White. “There were other options that absolutely should have been used.”
Summations in the case are scheduled for Wednesday.
The trial is a bench trial – there is no jury in the case. It is being heard by Bronx Supreme Court Judge Robert Neary, who will determine if Barry is guilty and what sentence to hand out.
If convicted, Barry could face life in prison.