NYPD officers are reportedly furious with Police Commissioner James O'Neill for his condemnation of a police sergeant who shot a mentally ill woman last October—so angry that they're now passing around images of O'Neill's face superimposed on a firing range target.
The suggestive image has spread through the department since Wednesday, the Post reports, following Sergeant Hugh Barry's indictment on second degree murder charges for fatally shooting Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old schizophrenic woman who allegedly threatened Sgt. Barry with a baseball bat.
“It’s unfortunate some people have to resort to such unprofessional and inappropriate behavior,” said NYPD Assistant Commissioner J. Peter Donald, referring to the circulating image.
After the October shooting, Mayor de Blasio questioned why the sergeant did not use his Taser or wait for backup, and said that the incident "should never have happened, simple as that." Commissioner James O'Neill added, "What is clear in this one instance—we failed."
The commissioner's admission has enraged rank-and-file officers in the wake of their colleague's indictment, according to sources who spoke with the Post. "This is what the guys feel about 'a cop's cop,'" one unnamed cop told the tabloid, referring to the commissioner. "[O'Neill] wasted no time in throwing Barry under the bus."
On Wednesday, Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins also attacked O'Neill's October comments, saying the top cop's "reaction triggered the mayor to go on a 48-hour tirade, ultimately, I believe, impacting the jury pool here in The Bronx."
"There's no doubt he was following what any New York City police officer would have done [given] deadly physical force with a baseball bat," Mullins continued. "We've seen it. It's taught in our training. He responded as he is required to do."
Prosecutors have pointed out that Sgt. Hugh did not receive the crisis intervention training, which became mandatory for new recruits about a year before the killing. While the specialized training is highly recommended by both mental health advocates and cops who have completed it, the program is currently voluntary for non-rookies, and has reached only 5,800 of the department's 35,000 officers.
In 2012, four years prior to her death, Danner penned an emotional essay about living with schizophrenia, along with a "wish list" of problems she'd like to see addressed. At the top of her list: "teaching law enforcement officers how to deal with the mentally ill in crisis."