Hugh Barry, the NYPD sergeant who fatally shot 66-year-old Deborah Danner in the Bronx in 2016, was acquitted on all charges Thursday.
Barry was indicted last year in the shooting death of Danner, who had schizophrenia, in her Castle Hill apartment on Oct. 18, 2016. He faced charges including second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
His trial started on Jan. 30 and was decided by a judge instead of a jury.
Barry said he shot Danner in self-defense. He initially said she swung a bat at his head, but during the trial, he said she had only started to swing, The New York Times reported. Another officer present said Barry fired two shots before Danner swung, but the sergeant’s lawyers maintained that he feared for his life before firing.
The prosecution argued that Barry did not follow proper protocol for dealing with a mentally ill person, including calling the Emergency Service Unit. Police had been called to Danner’s apartment twice before this incident, and in both cases, she was safely removed to the hospital, Mayor Bill de Blasio had said after the shooting.
Both de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill had criticized Barry’s actions.
Ed Mullins, the president of the city’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, accused O’Neill and de Blasio of denouncing Barry for political reasons.
“They owe an apology to the Danner family for misleading the facts, as well as Sgt. Barry, all of the hardworking members of the NYPD, and the people of the city of New York who were failed by their ineptitude and dishonesty,” he said in a statement. “Sgt. Barry committed no crime and was justified in his actions.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said while disappointed in the verdict, he hopes the case will lead to changes in how people with mental health are treated.
“There must be serious reforms to improve access to treatment so the situation does not rise to a crisis,” he said in a statement. “Mental health professionals should be part of the response to emotionally disturbed persons.”