Fatal Shooting of Elderly, Mentally Ill Woman Demands Answers from NYPD

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
October 19, 2016 4:45 pm

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An NYPD sergeant yesterday shot and killed an emotionally disturbed 66-year-old Black woman named Deborah Danner who was undressed and alone in her Bronx apartment. According to the NYPD, after officers entered the Ms. Danner’s apartment, she raised a baseball bat in attempt to strike the Sergeant Hugh Barry, who was carrying both a gun and a Taser. In response he shot her with his gun twice. According to reports, this was not Ms. Danner’s first interaction with police, who were aware of her mental illness. The NYPD has said the Force Investigation Division is currently investigating her death, and new Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, “What is clear in this one instance, we failed.”

The following is attributable to NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

“No person in need of mental health services should end up dying like this. It is hard to imagine why five officers and a patrol sergeant would need to use deadly force to disarm an elderly woman with a baseball bat. The questions raised by such a disproportionate use of force are especially important in a context where across the country people are asking if law enforcement values enough the lives of people of color.”

“The NYPD has also recently unrolled a new use-of-force policy aimed squarely at curbing physical confrontations. Is the policy truly being utilized and are officers at every experience level being adequately trained? Are city agencies doing enough to protect the lives of the mentally ill and conceiving of more humane and effective ways to respond to vulnerable people in crisis?”

“Commissioner O’Neill has done the right thing by disclosing that this tragedy was the result of failure, and this openness and transparency must be part of the ongoing investigation in order to decrease the tension he acknowledges exist between people and communities.”

For more information and to view recent NYPD firearm discharge reports, visit: http://www.nyclu.org/news/fatal-shooting-of-elderly-mentally-ill-woman-demands-answers-nypd

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