District Attorney Darcel Clark is requesting a grand jury to investigate the shooting death of 66-year old Deborah Danner.
Danner was shot on Tuesday, October 18 by NYPD sergeant Hugh Barry.
“I will ask the Administrative Judge of the Supreme Court to impanel a special grand jury to investigate the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old woman, in her apartment … and to determine whether, and to what extent, criminal charges should be brought in connection with that incident,” Clark said on Monday, December 5.
“I have pledged to the people of the Bronx to conduct a thorough, fair investigation into this matter and I believe that presenting the evidence to a grand jury will best accomplish that goal,” Clark added. “It is important to determine exactly what happened in this tragic incident.”
She also said there is “no timetable for the grand jury to be impaneled or for it to reach a determination.”
Danner’s death stirred controversy throughout the Bronx, the country and social media.
Police responded to a 911 call at the 630 Pugsley Avenue apartment at 6:06 pm.
They arrived at Danner’s 7E apartment where she swung a pair of scissors at them.
The five officers were able to get her to put the scissors down but Danner later picked up a bat and began swinging it at them before Barry shot her.
Danner had reportedly struggled with schizophrenia.
Protesters have recently decried police treatment of people with mental illnesses.
Following the shooting, NYPD commissioner James O’Neill said the department had “failed Danner”
Mayor de Blasio noted the officers were originally able to de-escalate the situation but wondered why they were not able to get Danner to drop the bat.
“But why the rest of the protocol wasn’t followed is what we don’t understand,” DeBlasio added.
When dealing with a person with a history of mental illness, officers are supposed to wait for the Emergency Services Unit which is specially trained to deal with mentally-ill civilians.
Following Danner’s death, the Bronx became home to a protest march on October 19 which started at her building and made it’s way through Soundview to the 43rd Precinct.
The next day elected officials held a vigil to remember Danner, called for peace and requested a further look into the events surrounding Danner’s shooting.
At the press conference Assemblyman Marcos Crespo called for more accountability among officers.
“We love you – we know the work you do – it’s not easy and I don’t envy the job you have to do” Crespo said during the vigil in a message to members of the NYPD. “But at the same time we have to be able to say to our own colleagues, ‘You did the wrong thing, you weren’t supposed to do that, you made us all look bad.’”
Danner’s death reminded some Bronxites of the 1984 shooting of 66-year old Eleanor Bumpurs.
Police shot and killed Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, while she was waving a knife at officers.
Police were trying to help evict Bumpurs because she had fallen behind on rent.