NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Authorities arrested a police sergeant on a murder charge in the on-duty shooting of a 66-year-old mentally ill woman in New York City.
A Bronx grand jury indicted Sgt. Hugh Barry in Deborah Danner's October death. He appeared in court Wednesday to plead not guilty to murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide charges. A judge released him on bail.
In October, police officers responded to a 911 call about an emotionally disturbed person inside an apartment in the Bronx. Barry encountered Danner in the apartment and talked her into dropping a pair of scissors. But she then picked up a baseball bat and threatened the sergeant, so he shot her, authorities said.
The police commissioner and mayor condemned the shooting. They said Barry had a stun gun but didn't use it.
Ed Mullins, the president of Barry's police union, called the charges "ridiculous" and said he is disappointed by the grand jury's decision.
"I firmly believe that as we go forward that you will see Sgt. Barry will be vindicated, will be acquitted," Mullins said. "He followed the training for which this department established, teaches currently still, and if we are going to indict Sgt. Barry then the people who created this training -- right up into Commissioner O'Neill's office -- they should be indicted."
Activists and political leaders had called for Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to oversee the investigation into Danner's death, but Schneiderman refused as his office can only investigate fatal police shootings of unarmed people.
Community activists and members of Black Lives Matter demonstrated outside the courthouse Wednesday.
"You can't just go around killing black people -- emotionally disturbed or otherwise -- without there being some consequence," Neville Mitchell, a lawyer and community activist, said at the demonstration.
Barry has been suspended while the criminal case plays out.
With the Associated Press