Deborah Danner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Deborah Danner

Deborah Danner. (Facebook)

A New York police sergeant shot and killed an emotionally disturbed naked 66-year-old woman who police say was wielding a pair of scissors and then a baseball bat.

The New York Post identified the officer as Hugh Barry and the woman who was killed as Deborah Danner.

Danner – who called herself a gem in the rough on Twitter and opined about police – was killed by police inside her own apartment bedroom in the Bronx on October 18, according to NBC New York. Danner was shot twice by the officer, said NBC New York.

The mayor and police commissioner have said protocols were not followed. Mayor Bill DeBlasio told NBC New York: “Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period. If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It’s as simple as that.”

Some have compared Danner’s shooting to that of Eleanor Bumpurs, 69, who was shot and killed by police in 1984 in her Bronx apartment. In the Bumpers shooting, the officer was called to her apartment for an eviction dispute and was charged with manslaughter, but was acquitted, said The New York Times.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Danner Was Naked & Wielding a Pair of Scissors & Bat

Deborah Danner

Deborah Danner. (Twitter)

At 6:15 p.m. on October 18, a uniformed sergeant, Barry, entered the woman’s apartment. “The sergeant encountered a 66 year-old female in a bedroom who was armed with a pair of scissors,” the NYPD says.

NBC New York said the woman was naked.

The official police account then says the sergeant “engaged the female in conversation and persuaded her to put down the scissors.”

However, the incident didn’t end there.

“After putting down the scissors the female subject approached the sergeant and grabbed a baseball bat,” the NYPD says. “As she attempted to strike the sergeant he fired two shots from his service revolver striking her in the torso.”


2. Danner Had Schizophrenia & Wrote About Black Lives Matter on Twitter, Calling Herself a ‘Gem in the Rough’

The call came in for an emotionally disturbed person.

According to The NYPD, at approximately 6:06 p.m., police in the 43rd Precinct “responded to a 911 call for an Emotionally Disturbed Person at 630 Pugsley Avenue in the Bronx.” ABC7 said the caller told police the woman was armed with scissors in a hallway.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Raphelle Gundy, who lives in the building, “said she thought the woman had mental issues and neighbors often heard violent noises coming from her home.”

The neighbor said the woman became more disturbed when her mother died and told The Wall Street Journal that neighbors “would think somebody’s in there fighting her or attacking this lady. She’s hollering and screaming and talking like she’s going to hurt somebody.”

ABC7 said, “The cops were there practically once a month when she was off the meds.” Another neighbor told The New York Post, “She’s always screaming every day. Cursing and screaming. She’s just very angry when she’s not on her medication.”

On Twitter, Danner described herself as “a work in progress, I am a gem in the rough. I’ll smooth out soon..”

Some of her posts were political. She wrote, “With so much GUN VIOLENCE around us innocents, would someone PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE sponsor AMENDING THE 2ND AMENDMENT to reflect the 21s…”

She also wrote about police: “BEWARE: OFFICER(s) / PROVOCATEUR(s) + ANGER = RIOT(s)” and “WHAT A WORLD TO LIVE IN WHERE IT’S NECESSARY TO PUT POLICE IN JAIL…HAIL UTOPIA.” She also wrote: “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!

And she tweeted: “Wherever this Life’s Journey leads and whatever happens, I GO DOWN FIGHTING!!!!”

Her cousin is a former NYPD officer.


3. A State Lawmaker Called the Shooting ‘Indefensible’ & the Police Commissioner Says Protocols Weren’t Followed

New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Wednesday, according to NBC New York: “What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened. We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”

The commissioner said officers are trained to not take life if it can be avoided, according to CNN.

State Senator Ruben Diaz, Bronx Borough president, condemned the shooting as “indefensible” and an “outrage.”

“While I certainly understand the hard work that our police officers undertake to keep the streets of our city safe every single day, I also know what excessive force looks like,” Diaz said. “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.”

Diaz compared the shooting to the Bumpurs’ slaying and lamented that the city had learned little in three decades.

The mayor said he had been briefed on the shooting and, according to NBC New York, he added that Danner’s sister was waiting to help her but police shot Danner instead.

The NYPD says the shooting is under investigation.

Bumpurs had a knife and threatened to throw lye, and her case is often listed in New York cases of police interaction with emotionally disturbed people.


4. The Officer Was Armed With a Taser but Didn’t Use It

The officer, Barry, was carrying a taser but didn’t use it, according to CBS New York. The New York Post said the officer has no disciplinary record.

One woman told The New York Daily News that she saw officers giving the woman CPR: “They were giving her CPR trying to bring her back but she was purple already. You could tell her color was changing and they were pumping her.”

The New York Daily News said Barry was placed on “modified duty,” an action sharply criticized by the police union, which called his actions justified. That means he loses his gun and shield until the investigation concludes, says the Daily News.

“Everyone agrees that this is a good shooting,” Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, said to The Daily News. Barry had two prior settled brutality lawsuits, said NBC New York.


5. A Neighbor Had Complained That Danner Was Acting in an ‘Irrational Manner,’ Police Say

The NYPD said in the news release that “the first officers arrived at the location within one minute and they were directed to the 7th floor, where a neighbor made a complaint regarding a female who was acting in an irrational manner.”

On Twitter, citizens questions why the call had to lead to shooting Danner.

Officers encountered Danner in a bedroom, said CBS New York.