Trial Starts For Cop Charged With Murder In The Death of Deborah Danner
Deborah Danner was a 66-year old senior citizen with schizophrenia. On October 18, 2016, Deborah was in her Bronx apartment when a neighbor called the police and reported that Deborah was screaming. New York City Police Sergeant Hugh Barry arrived on the scene and shot Deborah dead. For more about what happened, see my post from May 2017.
In May 2017, Barry was charged with murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. His trial began yesterday, January 30, 2018. It is expected to last 3 weeks. Barry has waived his rights to a jury trial and opted for a bench trial. The question to be decided by Judge Robert A. Neary is whether Sergeant Barry had exhausted other options for safely containing Ms. Danner before he fired his pistol. As I’ve written in other posts, this is clearly an abuse of discretion standard; not a beyond a reasonable doubt standard.
Deborah was intelligent. She wrote a six-page essay about her illness to a lawyer saying, “We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead.”
The Message In His Defense Is that Black Lives Matter Is An Inconvenience Because Had Deborah Been White, Barry Would Not Have Been Charged For Killing Her
The New York Times reports that the Sergeants Benevolent Association and other police unions, have accused the district attorney of caving to pressure from politicians and activists riding a national wave of outrage over police shootings of minorities. (Ms. Danner was black; Sergeant Barry is white.)
The union president, Ed Mullins stated “This was a political decision. Everyone is afraid of protesters.”
There we have it — the idea that Mullins conveys is that protests are a matter of inconvenience, resulting in officers being charged and facing trial. Whereas, had Deborah Danner been White, there is the assumption that there would have been no protests leading to the arrest of Barry and thus, her life would not have mattered.
This is the type of double-talk that racial bigots make, and it is contradicted by the many killings of non-Blacks by officers who are charged, and acquitted. Kelly Thomas, John Wrana, and Daniel Shaver immediately come to mind. We still await on a grand jury’s decision on the fate of Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor who shot and killed Justine Damond.
Ed Mullins is right about one thing however. When there are no protests over the killing of non-Whites, it is more likely police are not charged. Dillon Taylor, Saif Nasser Mubarak Alameri, Misty Holt-Singh and Ethan Saylor immediately come to mind.
Hugh Barry Was Named In Two Police Brutality Lawsuits Related To Separate Incidents
The New York Post reports that the cases were filed in federal court within the past four years and alleged that Sgt. Hugh Barry dealt brutal beatings with his fists, feet or baton, in violation of the plaintiffs’ civil rights as racial minorities.
A 2012 case resulted in the city paying a settlement. A 2014 case went to trial in 2016. A jury did not award the plaintiff any money but did find that other officers were at fault.
The testimonies of other officers on the scene are expected to be critical to the prosecution’s case. The lead prosecutor, Wanda Perez-Maldonado, has said in court papers that Sergeant Barry, 32, a nine-year veteran in the 43rd Precinct, was impatient to take Ms. Danner into custody and failed to devise a plan with the other officers for keeping her corralled.
Within minutes of arriving, he signaled to the other officers to rush Ms. Danner, the prosecutor wrote. Indeed he was only in the apartment eight minutes before he fired the fatal shots. “It is telling that out of the six officers who were present in Ms. Danner’s apartment, only the defendant drew and fired his weapon,” she said.
Deborah Danner was in her bedroom and refused to come out — and neither was she letting anyone into her bedroom without a fight. Barry decided otherwise. Rather than backup and close the door to the bedroom and wait for specially trained personnel to arrive, he shot Deborah twice in the torso, killing her. Barry created the very condition that he claims placed him in a position to exercise self-defense.
Ms. Perez-Maldonado, who is the chief of office’s Public Integrity Bureau, also has said in court papers that Sergeant Barry ignored his training. He failed to isolate Ms. Danner until officers from the specially trained Emergency Service Unit could arrive.
“Defendant’s own testimony confirms that, without making or communicating any kind of plan, defendant rushed a paranoid schizophrenic who obviously did not want to leave her house and who in response grabbed a baseball bat,” she wrote in one filing.
Sergeant Barry’s lawyers plan to argue he acted in self-defense.
Reports on the trial will be posted in the comment section below.