Statement on Deborah Danner Not Guilty Verdict from The Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society issued the following statement regarding the acquittal of NYPD Sargent Hugh Barry for the killing of Deborah Danner last October:

“Angry and fed up are some of the feelings we are all experiencing about this morning’s full acquittal of Hugh Barry, yet another police officer who used his power to end the life of another black person. It is clear that the fight to keep people of color safe in our city continues each and every day, and we are and should always be deep in that fight. There is no justification for the acquittal, in fact, it is impossible to understand anyone determining that this type of force was necessary to subdue Ms. Danner, a mentally ill 66 year old woman who simply needed help. This acquittal speaks volumes to the failure of our City, State and Country to hold police accountable and our failure as a City, State and Country to recognize and call out racism. It is, of course, desperately sad that Ms. Danner lost her life, but more importantly, it will fuel the fire that burns in all of us to ensure this type of brutality and discriminatory policing stops occurring once and for all. The devaluing of black and brown lives must end, and we stand committed to help lead the way, speaking out against the racism that allows this type of behavior to, not only occur, but to be justified.

Today the members of the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid Caucus issued these words as part of their statement on the acquittal. We stand with them, with our clients and with those who seek justice, fairness and an end to police violence:

‘The Black Attorneys of Legal Aid Caucus strongly denounces the verdict issued today, in which Sgt. Hugh Barry was acquitted of all charges in the killing of Deborah Danner on October 18, 2016. Despite the fact that this sergeant was censured by both the NYPD commissioner and the mayor for not following proper protocol; the judicial system refused to hold law enforcement accountable for the slaying of an elderly black woman in her own home. As far as the system was concerned; it was not murder; it was not negligent homicide; nothing criminal happened here.

The Black Attorneys of Legal Aid Caucus also strongly denounces the State’s handling of the case. Deborah Danner joins a long list of black people infamously killed by the NYPD; including Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Delrawn Small, Alberta Spruill, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and Eleanor Bumpurs. Yet police officers are almost never indicted, let alone tried for these killings; and when officers are finally forced to stand trial, they are routinely given preferential treatment from District Attorneys and judges. It is apparent that Sgt. Hugh Barry was given special privileges from the day he killed Ms. Danner, through the final verdict of his trial. State actors have granted this officer privileges that have allowed him to evade accountability for Ms. Danner's killing.

… The disparate treatment Sgt. Hugh Barry received, as an officer of the New York City Police Department who killed an elderly black woman, is a reflection of the organized hostility towards poor communities of color. Yet another black person was needlessly shot and killed by the police, and no one has to answer for it. The criminal justice system continues to send a clear message every day that black lives are of less value. We cannot support any system that devalues black lives. The time for police accountability for the abuse and mistreatment of black people is long overdue. The time for us to voice our outrage in the face of this continuing injustice is long overdue. We must all rise up and condemn this incessant catalog of injustice. Black lives will continue be devalued until we act!’”  Black Attorneys of Legal Aid