NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four hundred eighty-six days after an NYPD officer shot and killed an emotionally disturbed woman in the Bronx, a verdict will be coming down Thursday.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, final summations began Wednesday in the trial of an Sgt. Hugh Barry.
Barry faces murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in the shooting that killed Deborah Danner, 66. The paranoid schizophrenic was having an episode in her Castle Hill, the Bronx apartment and holding a bat at the time.
Barry was initially called to Danner’s Bronx apartment on Oct. 18, 2016 because she was in distress. The precinct was aware of her mental health status.
In his closing argument Wednesday defense attorney Andrew Quinn argued that Bronx prosecutors were trying to criminalize a difficult police judgment call.
“Clearly, my client wasn’t intending to kill Ms. Danner,” Quinn said.
Quinn argued that Barry convinced Danner to drop a pair of scissors, but opened fire when she suddenly grabbed a baseball bat from under her pillow.
“Steps forward, and then and only then did Barry fire his weapon,” Quinn said. “The bat is a lethal weapon, and officers can fire when confronted with a lethal weapon.”
Prosecutors pointed to a discrepancy. One officer testified Barry was four to five feet away from Danner’s bat, while Barry claimed he was much closer.
Prosecutors said Barry ignored training and failed to isolate and contain Danner. They said he also failed to confer with first responders before confronting Danner in her bedroom.
“As a supervisor, you have to make an assessment of what you’re walking into,” said Bronx Assistant District Attorney Wanda Perez-Maldonado. “Yet, Sgt. Barry said there was no need for it and he did not speak to other officers to see if they had any information that was relevant.”
On Tuesday, Barry took the stand in his own defense, attempting to prove he was justified in the shooting.
“I just see the bat swinging and that’s when I fired,” he told the judge. “I’m looking at this bat that can crack me in the head and kill me.”
“It was either he fired two shots to terminate the threat or we would be standing here talking about an officer who had a fractured skull or possibly even killed,” said President of the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association Ed Mullins.
On the stand, Barry said a Taser was not appropriate defense against a swinging bat.
Soon after the shooting, both the mayor and police commissioner stated publicly that Barry did not follow department protocol.
Supporters of Danner say the situation never should have escalated that way.
“It was disturbing,” said Danner supporter James White. “It brought home everything we had heard the day after she was shot, there were other options that absolutely should have been followed.”
The defense made a strategic decision – a bench trial with just a judge and no jury. Bronx Supreme Court Judge Robert Neary will consider murder, negligent homicide, and manslaughter charges, and announce his decision Thursday morning.
Barry is a 9-year veteran of the NYPD.