CASTLE HILL — Dozens of protesters gathered outside Deborah Danners' Bronx co-op a day after her fatal shooting there to protest her death at the hands of the NYPD, saying they were concerned at the use of force against a senior in her own home.
“I’m here to support Deborah. The same thing that happened to her could've happened to me,” protester Gladys Bosas, 67, who lives in the neighborhood, said. “I don’t feel comfortable calling someone that is supposed to protect me, and might hurt me.”
Al Pleasant, 79, who lives in The Bronx, said he was shocked police would consider an elderly, mentally ill woman a threat.
“I can’t believe the police would just come into an elderly person’s house and shoot them dead,” Pleasant said.
Danner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot and killed by NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry when she came at him with a baseball bat. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill has acknowledged that police procedures were not followed and police are investigating the incident.
More than 50 demonstrators, including lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, gathered in front of Danner's apartment building at 630 Pugsley Avenue and then marched to the 43rd Precinct stationhouse, where the sergeant worked, chanting “Black women they matter here!” and “Our streets, our blocks, we don’t need these killer cops!”
According to fatal police shooting statistics gathered by The Guardian, 863 people have been killed so far this year — just 17 of those people were older than Deborah Danner.
“Usually, the younger people are in danger, but this was a 66-year-old woman,” Paul Nickerson, 31, who lives in the building next to Danner’s, said. “So now we’re really scared.”
Christian Valencia, 22, said he traveled two hours from Bensonhurst in Brooklyn to the Bronx protest.
“When I saw this woman got shot, I was very, very angry,” Valencia said.
“I wanted to be there with the community.”
He was pleased to hear the mayor and the police commissioner acknowledge the officer’s wrongdoing.
“They know they messed up,” he said. “This is even blatantly against police procedure.”
Moises Delgado, 36, who lives on Boston Road said he’s been to many protests over fatal police shootings of black people, but found this one particularly chilling.
“It was an elderly women and this was a sergeant. This is pretty extreme,” Delgado said. “If they beat her, it’d be excessive, but this is surreal.”
Danner had herself spoken out against the treatment of black people by police, two days after a police officer shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Point of the Conversation: How'd U like to move about w/a TARGET on you because of the color of your skin? BLACK LIVES MATTER!— Deborah Danner (@DeborahDanner01) July 8, 2016