Papers filed in state Supreme Court in the Bronx last week by Sgt. Hugh Barry say the NYPD officer had no choice when he fatally shot an emotionally disturbed black Bronx woman after she swung a baseball bat at him.
The documents are part of a motion seeking to dismiss the charges against Barry, which include murder. According to the motion, an unidentified expert called by prosecutors told a grand jury: “At no time . . . was the use of a Taser an appropriate alternative to the use of a firearm.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Barry’s actions and Commissioner James O’Neill stripped him of his gun after he fatally shot 66-year-old Deborah Danner on Oct. 18. O’Neill said Barry had violated protocol by failing to call the Emergency Services Unit and by not first using his Taser.
Barry’s papers were filed the day after police Officer Miguel Gonzalez shot and killed 32-year-old Dwayne Jeune, an emotionally disturbed black man in Brooklyn. Police said Jeune charged at Gonzalez and three officers with a knife, and that the officer fired two Taser darts that failed to stop Jeune. Gonzalez had shot and wounded another emotionally disturbed black man in October. Police said both shootings appeared to be within guidelines.
A spokeswoman for Bronx D.A. Darcel Clark said the office would answer Barry’s motion next month.
Lethal encounters between police and emotionally disturbed people have raised concerns among black New Yorkers. The Amsterdam News headlined its story of Jeune’s shooting as “Police Kill Again: NYPD shoot mentally ill man in Brooklyn.” And comparing Jeune’s shooting with Danner’s, Councilman Jumaane Williams said, “We cannot keep having people who simply need help keep ending up dead.”
According to Barry’s motion, he and other officers arrived at Danner’s apartment after a 911 call. It was not a barricade situation, so the ESU was not called.
An officer told Barry that Danner was on her bed snapping a pair of scissors, the motion says. Barry persuaded her to put down the scissors and come into the hallway. But standing on the threshold, she refused to leave her bedroom. Barry decided to “rush her.” She ran into the bedroom and grabbed a bat. Barry told Danner to drop it, but she swung the bat at his head.
Barry then fired twice, killing her.