On Tuesday, a New York City police officer fatally shot a 66-year-old woman in her apartment at the Bronx. NBC in New York reports how police encountered Deborah Danner — who suffered from schizophrenia — while she was wielding a baseball bat. The NYPD has launched an investigation into the shooting.
The officer, who has remained unnamed, was responding to a 911 complaint regarding Danner, who was described as being “emotionally disturbed.” The uniformed police sergeant then entered her Bronx apartment, where Danner is reported to have been naked and carrying scissors. NBC 4-New York reports the officer tried to negotiate with her to drop the scissors, and she then charged at him with a baseball bat. The officer then shot her twice in the torso, and she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
What makes the situation all the more distressing is that New York City Police Department protocol calls for officers to use tasers on emotionally disturbed individuals. The incident is currently under investigation to determine why the officer did not use his taser, but Police Commissioner James O’Neill called the situation “distressing”:
“We failed. We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”
Neighbors had told NBC 4-New York that Danner suffered from schizophrenia and had been Danner being carried away in a straight jacket at one point. The Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr said the police knew of Danner’s condition and called her shooting an “outrage”:
“This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun. That is totally unacceptable.”
An investigation is currently ongoing and the officer has been placed on modified duty. The unnamed officer or the New York police officers’ union has yet to comment on the situation.