Why Did The NYPD Shoot A Mentally Ill, 66-Year-Old Woman?

Photo by Drew Angerer/ 2016 Getty Images
The NYPD said it is conducting a full review of the incident, including why a Taser or stun gun were not used instead.

New York City authorities are investigating the shooting-death of a mentally-disturbed woman by an NYPD sergeant on Tuesday night—a situation that has prompted questions over the use of deadly force.

Police were called to Deborah Danner’s residence because she was apparently acting in an irrational manner. Arriving at the scene, Sgt. Hugh Barry found the 66-year-old wielding a pair of scissors. Though Barry convinced Danner to put down the scissors, she then came after him with a baseball ball, according to his account. He then shot her twice.

Danner died at the hospital.

The NYPD said it is conducting a full review of the incident, including why a Taser or stun gun were not used instead. Multiple sources, including neighbors and Danner’s sister, Jennifer, say that the 66-year-old was known to the local precinct. They had been to the apartment previously, and Jennifer Danner called them Tuesday as she was trying to convince Deborah to seek medical attention.

“We’re determined to get to the bottom of what happened,” NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio tweeted after the shooting. Later, in a press conference Wednesday, De Blasio added that Barry had been through required de-escalation training that would have been better used in dealing with Danner.

“We need to know why this officer did not follow his training, did not follow those protocols,” De Blasio said. For now, Barry has been placed on modified duty until further notice. But the NYPD Commissioner has already called the situation a failure on the part of the police department.

“What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened,” said Commissioner James O’Neill. “That’s not how it’s supposed to go. It’s not how we train.”

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