-- A New York Police Department sergeant has been indicted for second-degree murder, first and second-degree manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide for the fatal shooting of a mentally ill Bronx woman last October, according to a news release from the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
“A special grand jury investigated this case for more than two months. After a thorough, deliberate investigation, they have indicted NYPD Sergeant Hugh Barry for causing the death of Ms. Danner," Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said in the news release. "When I asked last December that a special grand jury be impaneled, I said there would be no timetable, and that a fair investigation would take place and go wherever the evidence takes it. I commend the grand jurors for their painstaking work and for giving so much time away from their families."
Barry, 31, was arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary and released on $100,000. He is due back in court on July 7, 2017, according to the news release.
The Bronx District Attorney's Office was not immediately available for comment and it is unclear if Barry is represented by a lawyer.
Details from a police investigation reveal that at about 6 p.m. local time on Oct. 18, 2016, police officers responded to 66-year-old Deborah Danner's apartment in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx after a 911 call was placed about an emotionally disturbed woman screaming in the hallway. Barry arrived at the scene after police and EMTs, according to the news release.
While authorities attempted to take Danner into custody to be medically evaluated, Danner allegedly refused to go to the hospital and at one point held a pair of scissors and then a wooden bat toward Barry before he shot her twice, according to details in the news release.
"The investigation revealed that, based on these circumstances and his training, Barry did not avail himself of other options before using deadly physical force," said the news release.
ABC station WABC reports that Barry was carrying a Taser at the time of the incident, but decided to fire his service weapon instead.
"That's not how it's supposed to go. That's not how we train," Commissioner James O'Neill saying the morning after the Danner's death, WABC reported.
Civil rights activist and president of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement in regard to Barry's arrest and referred to the charges as a step toward justice.
"The arrest of the NYPD Sergeant charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner is a good step in a long walk toward justice," Sharpton said in a statement. "We will monitor selection of the jury, the trial, and the verdict. National Action Network has previously said that the need for an overhaul in police training and a review of those qualified to become police officers is apparent and must be dealt with."
The Sergeant's Benevolent Association came to Barry's defense, called today's charges "an absolute travesty of justice."
The SBA also blamed Commissioner O'Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio for escalating the event by speaking to the public and against Barry before a complete investigation was done.
"Before any investigation was even commenced, Police Commissioner James O'Neill made what many in his department have described as a major amateurish mistake by placing Sgt. Barry on modified assignment and proclaiming to the press 'we failed' when describing the NYPD actions," SBA President Ed Mullins said in a statement.
"Needless to say, his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, also went on a media tirade condemning the actions of Sgt. Barry," Mullins continued.
He added that "they immediately poisoned the well, supplanting in the hearts and minds of a gullible public, the grand jury pool and the Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark that a crime had occurred. They did not just throw Sgt. Barry under the bus; in the court of public opinion they ran over him with a steamroller."