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February 15, 2018

NYPD officer found not guilty in fatal shooting of mentally ill Bronx woman

Sgt. Hugh Barry was accused of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the 2016 shooting of the paranoid schizophrenic Bronx woman.

By Nikki M. Mascali

An NYPD sergeant was found not guilty in the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner, a mentally ill woman, in 2016, a Bronx judge ruled Thursday. 

Sgt. Hugh Barry, who had been accused of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, was found not guilty of all charges by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary in the death of Deborah Danner, 66.

Barry, an NYPD veteran of eight years, was responding to a 911 call about someone acting erratically at Danner’s Castle Hill apartment on Oct. 18, 2016, when he came face-to-face with her in a bedroom. Danner, who was a paranoid schizophrenic, was naked and wielding scissors, which Barry was able to persuade her to put down.

As Barry tried to get Danner to leave the room, she charged at him with a baseball bat. Barry, who also had a Taser in his possession, fired two shots from his weapon, striking her in the torso. She later died at a nearby hospital.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill immediately condemned the shooting, with the mayor saying at the time that it “never should have happened” and O’Neill adding, “We failed.”

Barry chose to have a non-jury trial and testified this week that he used his weapon and not the Taser because Danner was swinging the bat at his head “and that’s when I fired,” he said. “I’m looking at this bat that can crack me in the head and kill me.”

According to The New York Times, Officer Camilo Rosario testified that Danner was not wielding the bat when Barry fired. Testimony from other officers indicated Rosario was the only one who had a clear view of the shooting. 

“There is no victory here today, only relief that justice has been served and a good man who was doing a difficult and dangerous job has been exonerated,” Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, tweeted.