The NYPD sergeant who fatally shot a 66-year-old woman in the Bronx last year was indicted on Wednesday for several offenses, including second-degree murder, authorities said.
Sgt. Hugh Barry, 31, was released on $100,000 bail after he was charged in the shooting death of Deborah Danner inside her Castle Hill apartment on Oct. 18, 2016, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
Barry was also charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. If convicted of the murder charge, he could face up to life in prison.
Barry was placed on “suspended duty status pending the disposition of the criminal case in Bronx County,” a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
Barry’s attorney, Andrew Quinn, called the high bail “laughable.”
“Sgt. Barry has an unblemished record and is still gainfully employed by the New York Police Department,” he said. “Sgt. Barry has voluntarily surrendered himself because we know we have extraordinary evidence that will defend his honor.”
Barry responded to Danner’s house after someone called 911 at about 6 p.m. to report an emotionally disturbed woman who was screaming in the hallway, according to the DA’s office.
Barry had convinced Danner, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, to drop a pair of scissors she was holding, but the woman then ran to the bedroom and picked up a baseball bat, according to the DA’s office and the Sergeants Benevolent Association. Danner then tried to hit Barry with the bat, police have said, and he shot her twice.
Assistant District Attorney Wanda Perez-Maldonado said Danner had lived alone for 30 years and had not taken her medication the day of the shooting. A total of four officers and two emergency medical technicians were at the apartment.
“Police have responded to her home on previous occasions,” Perez-Maldonado said during the arraignment. “Sgt. Barry failed to seek critical background information and failed in his training when dealing with an emotionally disturbed individual.”
A spokesman for the SBA said the group was “outraged” by the charges. SBA President Ed Mullins said the indictment was a politically motivated foregone conclusion.
“Sgt. Barry was indicted by the mayor and the police commissioner before this all went to a grand jury,” Mullins said, speaking at Bronx Supreme Court. “It’s disgraceful. Commissioner O’Neill, supposedly ‘cop’s cop,’ is a failure.”
Following the shooting, Barry faced criticism from top NYPD brass and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio has said Barry didn’t follow the NYPD’s protocol for handling emotionally disturbed people or use his stun gun.
Mullins said Danner’s use of a baseball bat was consistent with police guidelines allowing for the use of deadly force, adding Barry “is hanging in there, but obviously it’s very distressful.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said a special grand jury investigated the shooting for more than two months.
“When I asked last December that a special grand jury be empaneled, I said there would be no timetable, and that a fair investigation would take place and go wherever the evidence takes it,” Clark said in a statement. “I commend the grand jurors for their painstaking work and for giving so much time away from their families.
“The men and women of the NYPD protect and serve us, and face the possibility of danger every time they respond to calls of emotionally disturbed persons, domestic violence incidents and other crises,” Clark added. “They answer thousands of these calls each year without incident. I hope that measures will be taken to prevent another tragedy such as this.”
De Blasio said in a statement on Wednesday that “the loss of Deborah Danner was a tragedy felt deeply by our city,” and expressed “full faith in the district attorney to lead a fair and thorough prosecution.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said on Wednesday the indictment was a “positive first step” in addressing the often neglected issue of how to deal with “volatile situations” and mental illness.
“What happened to Deborah Danner was an outrage,” Diaz Jr. said in a statement. “Clearly, there were options available to Sgt. Barry which he failed to implement, and his conduct in this case is by no means a reflection on the great work of the New York City Police Department and its dedicated members.”
Barry’s next hearing is scheduled for July 7.
Outside the courthouse, Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, lauded the Bronx district attorney for assigning a special grand jury.
“This district attorney has sent the message out that no more black blood will spill on Bronx streets,” he said, adding about the baseball bat: “You do not shoot an elderly woman who is swinging a stick. You dodge it.”
The indictment comes just months after another officer, Wayne Isaacs, was indicted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. Isaacs, off duty at the time, allegedly walked up to Delrawn Small’s car in Brooklyn on July 4, 2016, and fatally shot him.
That case was the first Attorney General Eric Schneiderman prosecuted under the governor’s executive order giving the attorney general the ability to take over cases in which a law enforcement officer killed an unarmed civilian.
With Lauren Cook