#SayHerName: Bronx Officer Kills 66-Year-Old, Mentally Ill Deborah Danner

October 20, 2016  |  

If you’re struggling with a family member, loved one or associate who is living with a mental illness and is Black, the police are the wrong people to call. Because that person could easily end up losing their life.

That’s what happened to 66-year-old Deborah Danner yesterday.

According to CNN, police officers went to an apartment building around 6 p.m. on Tuesday when a neighbor called 911. The neighbor claimed that woman was acting in an irrational manner. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio said police had visited that apartment several times for similar incidents.

When Sergeant Hugh Barry got to the seventh-floor apartment, he found Danner who was holding scissors. He persuaded her to put them down. But then Danner grabbed a baseball bat and attempted to hit the sergeant. The officer fired two shots, hitting Danner in the torso. She died as she was being transported to the Jacobi Medical Center.

Nikunen said that officer had a taser on him that evening but it was not used. He says that the decision not to employ the taser gun will be a part of the investigation.

Danner’s cousin, Wallace Cooke Jr, told WCBS TV that Danner first showed signs of mental illness in college.

“She was a very smart, book-wise person, and she don’t deserve to be dead.”

Barry, the officer responsible for her death, is White and an eight-year veteran on the force. He has since been placed on a modified assignment which requited him to be stripped of his gun and badge during the investigation.

At a news conference, Mayor de Blasio said that Danner’s sister, Jennifer Danner, told him that she was waiting for officers to bring Deborah out of the apartment on Tuesday, so she could be hospitalized. And she wasn’t worried because police had been able to successfully do so in the past.

Dinner said, “I was down the hall from my sister’s apartment when I saw officers rush in and I heard three gunshots.”

De Blasio said that we need to know why the officer who was trained in de-escalating a situation did not utilize those tactics in this situation.

Police Commissioner James O’Neil said that the New York Police Department failed. “That’s not how it’s supposed to go. It’s not how we train. Our first obligation is to preserve life, not to take a life when it can be avoided.”

O’Neil said time was on their side. They could have dispatched an emergency service unit to assist. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. issued a statement saying the shooting was “an outrage” given the police department’s knowledge of Danner’s history and the officer’s possession of a stun gun.

He wrote: “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 asked that the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to investigate.

A spokesman for the attorney general said his office was reviewing the shooting.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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