Reported NYPD Test Says Officers "May Shoot" Disturbed Man With A Bat
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the police shooting of mentally ill woman Deborah Danner. But what appears to be an NYPD test for hopeful officers seems to condone the killing.
New York Daily News acquired a police academy test from this past June from an anonymous law enforcement source. A question on the test asks the following:
“With a baseball bat in his hands, an emotionally disturbed man charges at a police officer and threatens to break his nose. The officer is backed against a wall. Based on the department guidelines on the use of force and deadly physical force… (select the correct statement).”
The correct answer: “Because the suspect is threatening imminent deadly physical force, the officer may shoot.”
The multiple choice question included three incorrect answers. “A.: Because a broken nose is not a serious physical injury, the officer may not shoot.” C.: The officer must first utilize his baton or pepper spray before shooting.” “D.: Department guidelines prohibit officers from shooting at emotionally disturbed persons.”
The scenario sounds virtually identical to the Tuesday, Oct. 18 shooting of Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old schizophrenic woman. Police were called to Danner’s home in the Bronx after a neighbor complained about her behaving in an “irrational manner.”
Sgt. Hugh Barry, an eight-year veteran of the force, reportedly convinced Danner to drop a pair of scissors but shot her after she swung a bat at him. While the test is identical regarding the test question of a mentally disturbed person with a bat, there isn’t any indication that Barry’s back was against the wall, which is also a term of the question.
Barry was stripped of his gun and shield after the incident, and the department is still determining whether the shooting was necessary.
Residents are asking why Barry didn’t use nonlethal weapons like a stun gun or pepper spray instead of shooting her. O’Neill and de Blasio pointedly criticized the killing.
“The bottom line – we were called to help her, and we ended up killing her. It’s not just a matter that somebody has a weapon,” O’Neill said.
The killing and the test acquired by the New York Daily News coincide with multiple concerns that activists and critics have brought up. One is the idea that police brutality and use of excessive force are the results of inefficient police training and policy. Another stance says that police are ill-prepared to deal with mentally-ill people in the first place.