“Authorities in New York were sharply critical Wednesday of a police sergeant responding to a call about an ’emotionally disturbed person’ on Tuesday night who officials said fatally shot a 66-year-old woman wielding a baseball bat,” washingtonpost.com reports.
Police said they were investigating the shooting that occurred in the Bronx apartment of Deborah Danner, who authorities said was known to officers after previous, similar calls about her. In blunt public statements on Wednesday, officials said Sgt. Hugh Barry did not follow his training and said they were seeking to determine why he fired his gun rather than his Taser.
Because a woman was about to beat him to death with a baseball bat?
I’ve spoken with TASER many times about the use of their products by law enforcement. Spokesman Steve Tuttle was adamant that a TASER is not the solution to a lethal threat. There are times when a firearm is your best, perhaps even only bet.
There is an idea out there that a TASER provides foolproof instant incapacitation. Not so. There are lot of ways a TASER shot can go wrong, from an officer missing his or her target to the prongs failing to connect enough to deliver a full electronic charge.
Here’s the early report about this incident:
When [Sergeant] Barry went inside at about 6:15 p.m., Danner was holding scissors, Nikunen said. The sergeant talked with Danner and persuaded her to put the scissors down, but she then picked up a baseball bat and tried to hit Barry, prompting him to fire two shots at her torso, Nikunen said.
Danner was taken to Jacobi Hospital and pronounced dead.
If Officer Barry was in the midst of a standoff, at a stand off distance, a TASER may have been a better choice. But we don’t know all the details surrounding this homicide. So it’s best to wait before passing judgement.
Someone should tell Mayor DeBlasio and the NYPD brass.
“The shooting of Deborah Danner is tragic and it is unacceptable,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “It should never have happened. It’s as simple as that. It should never have happened.”
New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said earlier Wednesday that “we failed” and he wanted to know why.
I’m well known in these parts for being inherently suspicious of police. But I believe that police officers deserve the same consideration any civilian deserves: the presumption of innocence.
The rush to judgement, no, the assumption that most if not all officer-involved shootings are unjustified reflects the political correctness poisoning our view of law enforcement. More than that, it puts police and the public at risk. Hanging an officer out to dry before a complete review makes them less likely to do the job to which they’ve been assigned.