A judge has given a final verdict that the NYPD sergeant who fatally shot a schizophrenic woman is not guilty. The family and friends of the victim are outraged. Thursday morning, Judge Robert Neary announced that the police officer was acquitted of all charges.
Sgt. Hugh Barry, 32 years old, had not shown any reaction as the judge acquitted him on charges of second-degree murder, two counts of manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.
Deborah Danner, a 66-year old woman suffering from schizophrenia, was shot twice and killed inside the bedroom of her apartment in the Bronx in October 2016.
That night, a neighbor has called 911 and told that Danner was erratic. According to the police report, Danner was holding a pair of scissors when the officers arrived. She refused to drop it and picked up a baseball bat which was debated whether or not she swung.
Barry claims that Danner is holding the bat above of her head and he decided to fire the gun because he feared for his life.
Sgt. Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said, “At the end of the day, holding a baseball bat in a threatening motion justifies deadly physical force.”
Mullins praised the verdict while criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark whom he said were just “playing politics.”
De Blasio and O’Neill both condemned the way Barry handled the situation. They agree with what the prosecutors were saying that Barry failed to follow the training and protocols for dealing with those with mental illnesses to use his taser instead. The District Attorney’s office pressed the murder indictment in the case.
After 16 months of trial, the judge ruled, “The prosecution’s evidence has failed to meet (its) burden of proof. The court finds the defendant not guilty.”
The friends and family of the victim are disappointed about the final verdict. Danner’s cousin, Wallace Cooke Jr., a former NYPD officer, said, “Police departments allow this to happen. To have this going on today is unacceptable.”
Danner’s friend, Chris Berry, quite expected the decision. “It’s not a surprise at all,” she said. “It’s virtually impossible to convict a police officer. It’s heartbreaking…I’m really sorry that (Deborah) met that untimely, tragic death.”