The fallout from the New York Police Department killing of Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old black woman with schizophrenia is continuing.
On Wednesday, a group of several dozen protesters and mourners marched through the Bronx’s Castle Hill neighborhood, where Danner lived, to a nearby police station. The New York Times reported that some carried signs reading “Justice For Deborah Danner” and “Stop Police Terror.” According to the Bronx’s News 12, members of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as NYC Shut It Down participated in the protest. A police cruiser followed the group as they stopped traffic along their route from Danner’s apartment to the 43rd precinct station house.
Danner was shot and killed by police Sgt. Hugh Barry after swinging at him with a baseball bat. Barry, an eight-year veteran of the force, was reportedly carrying a taser at the time, but used his gun instead. Sgt. Barry, an eight-year law enforcement veteran, has reportedly been placed on “modified” duty, and been forced to turn in his gun and badge.
“Enough is enough,” one protester told PIX 11. “This was just too much.”
Outrage extended to social media, where users expressed their frustration with yet another police shooting.
But condemnation of Danner’s death wasn’t limited to activists in the streets or on social media. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio slammed the shooting as “tragic.”
“It never should have happened,” de Blasio told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s as simple as that.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill echoed de Blasio’s criticism, saying, “we do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people, and it looks like that some of those procedures weren’t followed. What is clear in this one instance, we failed.”
“I want to make it very clear, the New York City police department has once again failed to properly respond to deal with mentally ill patients without resorting to deadly physical force,” Danner’s sister Jennifer told the press.
The victim’s cousin, Wallace Cooke Jr., told WCBS-TV that Danner had been a “very smart, book-wise person,” who began experiencing signs of mental illness in college. Danner herself later penned a lengthy essay about her life with schizophrenia. According to the New York Times, her letter contained a tragically prescient portion:
“We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals,” she wrote, “and end up dead.”