Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark will be leading the criminal investigation into the fatal police-involved shooting of Deborah Danner in the Bronx earlier this week.
“I intend to conduct a full, reasoned and independent investigation into this matter, with an open mind, and any decisions that I make will be based upon the evidence,” Clark said in a statement.
The move comes after state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday that the case did not fall under his jurisdiction.
Schneiderman called Danner’s death a tragedy and said from the very beginning his office “commenced a rigorous review of the evidence” to determine whether the case fell under a 2015 executive order that could have allowed him to take over the investigation.
The attorney general said after reviewing the facts, however, the case is beyond his office’s authority.
“It is vital to note that this jurisdictional determination has no legal impact whatsoever on the ultimate question of whether or not a crime was committed, or whether the officer involved should be prosecuted,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “That determination rests with the Bronx district attorney’s office, which we expect will conduct a full and fair investigation.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the executive order in July 2015, giving the attorney general the ability to take over cases in which an unarmed civilian is killed by a law enforcement officer.
Danner, who was described by authorities as emotionally disturbed, was shot and killed by an NYPD sergeant inside her apartment in Castle Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, authorities said.
Police were called to her seventh-floor apartment just after 6 p.m. for a report of an emotionally disturbed person. When officers and the sergeant arrived, police said they found Danner in her bedroom holding a pair of scissors.
Police said Danner attempted to hit the sergeant with a baseball bat after he had talked her into putting the scissors down. The sergeant then fired two shots, fatally striking Danner in the torso, police said.
The sergeant, who was identified by a law enforcement source as Hugh Barry, has been placed on modified duty.
However, because Danner was not unarmed when she was killed, Schneiderman decided the case was not under his jurisdiction, a law enforcement source said.
A day after the shooting, Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, said police had “failed” Danner, adding that the shooting should never have happened.
De Blasio vowed a full investigation, saying the city would cooperate with any criminal probe as a result of the shooting.
Clark has assigned Wanda Perez-Maldonado, the district attorney’s chief of public integrity, to the case. Clark called Perez-Maldonado a “seasoned prosecutor.”
Chief of Investigations Division Jean T. Walsh will supervise and the Homicide Bureau will assist in the investigation, Clark said.
(With Alison Fox)