NEW YORK – A police officer on trial for fatally shooting a mentally ill woman in her Bronx apartment said he tried to grab the woman before she had a chance to pick up a pair of scissors once again.
The New York Times reported Sgt. Hugh Barry testified on Tuesday that Deborah Danner, 66, ran back into her room and grabbed a baseball bat.
"She was too fast for me," Barry said. "The last thing I want was for her to go into the room and get the scissors."
Barry said he drew his gun and pleaded with her to drop the bat, but she stepped toward him.
"I just see the bat swinging and that's when I fired," he said. "I'm looking at this bat that can crack me in the head and kill me."
Barry is on trial for murder in Danner's Oct. 18, 2016 shooting death. Police had been called to her home previously. Danner was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been hospitalized at least 10 times.
Barry's lawyer, Andrew Quinn, said in his opening statement that Barry fired because Danner was swinging a bat at his head.
In testimony on Tuesday, Barry said that when he arrived at the apartment Danner was on her bed angrily cutting up paper with scissors. He said he tried to persuade her to come out to see a medic but she refused, slamming the scissors down on a nightstand and standing just outside the door.
"I made a judgment call," Barry said. "I thought I was close enough to grab her."
Danner's death drew rare rebukes from the mayor and police commissioner. After a two-month grand jury investigation, Barry was charged in May 2017 with murder, manslaughter and other charges.
The death of Danner, who was black, at the hands of Barry, who is white, invited comparisons to the 1984 police killing of another black Bronx woman, Eleanor Bumpurs, who was shot after waving a knife at officers while being evicted from her apartment.
Information from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com