Deborah Danner/Twitter

A murder trial has begun for a Bronx police sergeant who fatally shot a 66-year-old woman.

In Oct. 2016, the sister of the late Deborah Danner watched as her sister, who had schizophrenia, was shot by Sgt. Hugh Barry. Jennifer Danner testified against the officer in court this week.

“All of a sudden all of the officers rushed into the apartment,” Jennifer said during Tuesday’s trial. “I did not hear (Deborah) any more. I was myself yelling, screaming — ‘What happened? Did you shoot my sister?’”

Sgt. Barry was reportedly responding to a call for help when he came to the elderly woman’s apartment in the Bronx’s Castle Hill neighborhood. Police had been called to Danner’s apartment on multiple occasions. In those instances, they simply aided Jennifer in taking her sister to the hospital.



But New York City police commissioner James O’ Neill said proper protocol was not followed by Sgt. Barry that night.

The officer claimed upon entering the apartment, he saw a naked Danner holding a pair of scissors. He said she eventually let go of the scissors but picked up a baseball bat and began to charge at him. Barry shot her twice.

“Our officers, in the overwhelming majority of instances, handled those instances very well, with tremendous skill, with tremendous sensitivity,” O’ Neill remarked following the Oct. 18 shooting. “That’s why this tragedy is so shocking. … Something went horribly wrong here.”

“Every life to me is precious,” he continued. “I think that we’ve been in this business a very long time, we’ve established procedures and protocols for handling emotionally disturbed people. That’s to keep everybody safe, that’s to keep the cops safe, the community safe and the person that we’re dealing with safe.”

On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Newton Mendys echoed the commissioner’s sentiment in his opening statements — the sergeant did not act in accordance with police training.

“The evidence will prove that Sgt. Barry failed — he failed in his training … he failed to listen to Mrs. Danner … he failed to grasp the actions of a mentally ill woman,” Mendys said. “Did Sgt. Barry honestly believe Deborah Danner (posed a threat), and was that belief reasonable?”



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