Officials in New York City are condemning the actions of an NYPD officer who fatally shot a 66-year-old black woman who was in need of mental health assistance.
According to the New York Times, neighbors had called the NYPD to their Bronx apartment building with reports of an older woman acting unusually. When two officers first encountered Deborah Danner, she was holding a pair of scissors.
After putting the scissors down, she reportedly picked up a baseball bat and swung it in the direction of one of the officers, a sergeant, who then went against all listed NYPD protocols and shot her twice.
The officer, Hugh Barry, was immediately stripped of his badge and gun by Police Commissioner James O’Neill who publicly criticized Barry’s decision by simply saying, “We failed.”
Barry was called out for not using the taser that he had on his person and not waiting for specialized officers with training to handle similar situations with the necessary care.
Ms Danner’s attorney later released an essay that she wrote 4 years ago explaining her personal struggles with Schizophrenia.
“Even the smartest people/persons in the world could not function in the realm of normalcy with that monkey on their backs,” she wrote. “What if my medication fails me? I ask myself, will I know if it does? Will the illness overpower its effectiveness? When? Where?”
Danner is unfortunately the latest of many black people who were injured or killed by police officers who either weren’t properly trained or completely ignored their training when it comes to encountering civilians with mental health needs. There is absolutely no reason she shouldn’t still be walking this earth and getting the help that she needs.