19, October 2016
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has come under fire for the officer-involved death of a 66-year-old African American woman, who was suffering from schizophrenia. NYPD officers shot dead Deborah Danner in the bedroom of her Bronx apartment on Tuesday, after she reportedly confronted them with scissors and a baseball bat.
According to police, Sergeant Hugh Barry had convinced the elderly woman to drop the scissors. However, when she charged to hit the officer with the bat, Barry fired two shots at her chest. She was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The NYPD admitted the excessive use of force in a statement, saying that the incident would undergo a full investigation since the officer could have subdued Danner by simply using his Taser.
“The sergeant was armed with a Taser. It was not deployed, and the reason it was not deployed will be part of the investigation and review,” said NYPD Assistant Chief Larry Nikunen. The NYPD immediately put Barry on modified duty until the investigation was completed.
Danner’s shooting death was condemned by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun,” he said in a statement.
According to Danner’s Twitter account, she was a keen supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks justice for unarmed African Americans killed by white cops. “The wound, RACISM, continues to fester. PRAY for healing,” she wrote in one tweet.
“Point of the Conversation: How’d U like to move about w/a TARGET on you because of the color of your skin? BLACK LIVES MATTER!” she wrote in another. The shooting occurred at a time when anti-police sentiment is already high across the US due to a surge of unjustified killings of unarmed African Americans over the past few months.
On Monday, Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), one of the largest police organizations in the US, issued a formal apology to minorities for the historical injustice and mistreatment by law enforcement agencies.