Police fatally shoot mentally unstable 66-year-old woman in her Bronx apartment

An elderly woman in the Bronx was killed in her home.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A New York Police Department officer fatally shot a mentally ill Bronx woman, Deborah Danner, in her apartment Tuesday after she allegedly charged at him with a baseball bat. She was 66 years old.

Cops were called to the apartment after Danner's neighbors heard her screaming, which they attribute to her failure to take her medication. On arrival, they found her nude, visibly troubled, and holding a pair of scissors. Officers convinced Danner, who was African-American, to drop the scissors, which they say she threatened to use as a weapon; she then reportedly picked up the bat. NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry says Danner charged him, and he fired twice. The elderly woman was struck in the torso and rushed to a nearby hospital where she died from her injuries.

NYPD Assistant Chief Larry Nikunen says investigation of the incident will examine why Barry did not use the Taser he was carrying instead of immediately opting for lethal force. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted a promise of thorough scrutiny of the case late Tuesday, saying, "We're determined to get to the bottom of what happened and won't rest until we do."

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Black Lives Matter protesters intend to demonstrate in Danner's neighborhood this week. "When you hear about these situations, it begs the question: How much training do these police officers have with dealing with those who are mentally ill?" said Hawk Newsome, a Black Lives Matter representative. Per data from The Washington Post, about 1 in 4 of those fatally shot by police are "mentally ill or experiencing an emotional crisis."

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.