National Roundup

New York
Officer testifies woman never swung bat before being shot

NEW YORK (AP) — A police officer testified that a mentally ill woman never swung the baseball bat she was holding at the police sergeant who shot her to death in her Bronx apartment.

The New York Times reports that Officer Camilo Rosario testified Monday that 66-year-old Deborah Danner did not swing the bat at Sgt. Hugh Barry before Barry shot her.

Barry is on trial for murder in Danner’s Oct. 18, 2016, shooting death.

Danner was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been hospitalized at least 10 times.

Barry’s lawyer, Andrew Quinn, said in his opening statement that Barry fired because Danner was swinging a bat at his head.

Other officers who were present have testified that Rosario was the only officer who had a clear view of the fatal encounter.

Danner’s death drew rare rebukes from the mayor and police commissioner.

“Our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation. It’s very hard to see that standard was met,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the shooting. “Something went horribly wrong here.”

Commissioner James O’Neill said his department had “failed” by not subduing Danner without resorting to deadly force.

“That’s not how it’s supposed to go,” O’Neill said. “It’s not how we train; our first obligation is to preserve life, not to take a life when it can be avoided.”

After a two-month grand jury investigation, Barry was charged in May 2017 with murder, manslaughter and other charges.

The death of Danner, who was black, at the hands of Barry, who is white, invited comparisons to the 1984 police killing of another black Bronx woman, Eleanor Bumpurs, who was shot after waving a knife at officers.

Man charged with assaulting girlfriend, hanging her dog

PAGEDALE, Mo. (AP) — A suburban St. Louis man has been charged with choking his girlfriend and killing her dog after she fled by hanging the animal.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 19-year-old Christopher Brown, of Pagedale, was charged Sunday in St. Louis County with felony counts of second-degree domestic assault and animal abuse. He’s also charged with a misdemeanor property damage count. Bail is set at $25,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.

A St. Louis County police officer wrote in charging documents that Brown assaulted the woman Saturday in a home in an unincorporated part of the county before she went for help. The officer says responding officers found the home in disarray and the woman’s dog hanging from a metal pole in her detached garage.

Court throws out death sentence for boy’s 1985 slaying

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court has thrown out a three-decades-old death sentence for a man convicted in the rape, torture and murder of a 12-year-old Ohio boy.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati says death row inmate Danny Hill can’t be executed because he is mentally disabled.

A three-judge panel convicted the 51-year-old Hill of aggravated murder following the 1985 attack on Raymond Fife in Warren.

The U.S. Supreme Court has banned the execution of people with mental disabilities. Courts use a three-part test when measuring mental disability including IQ, skill level and whether the disability showed itself before age 18.

The appeals court said last week that Hill meets all three measures without question.

The Attorney General’s Office couldn’t immediately say if an appeal was planned.

Grand jury convenes in police shooting of Australian

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The majority of the Minneapolis officers subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the fatal police shooting of an Australian woman were the trainers or educators of the officer who fired his weapon, according to the head of the Minneapolis police union.

More than 30 officers have been subpoenaed to testify as prosecutors decide whether to charge Officer Mohamed Noor in the July death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old life coach who was engaged to be married. She was shot in an alley as Noor and his partner responded to her 911 call about a possible sexual assault behind her home.

Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said the majority of those testifying were Noor’s trainers or educators in the police academy, according to the Star Tribune.

When prosecutors question the witnesses, they will likely ask how Noor was trained for a situation such as the one involving Damond, said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, who is not involved in the case.

“And then you’re asking yourself what would a reasonable officer do under those circumstances with that training,” Choi told the newspaper.

The officers were summoned to testify before the grand jury Tuesday.

Noor’s partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, witnessed the shooting and has been subpoenaed to testify. Noor has not spoken to investigators.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman had previously said he would no longer use grand juries in police shooting cases because they lack transparency. He has declined to confirm a grand jury is investigating the Damond case, citing the secrecy of such proceedings, but said he still intends to make his own decision on whether to charge the officer.

The move to use a grand jury became public after officers received subpoenas and about a month after Freeman said he didn’t have enough evidence and more investigation was needed.

Harrity, Noor’s partner, has told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond appeared at the driver’s side window of their police SUV on July 15. Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat and through the open window, shooting Damond.

Damond, who was unarmed, died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Freeman would be required to prove Noor’s actions in shooting Damond were “culpably negligent” if he were to pursue manslaughter charges under Minnesota law, according to experts. He also needs to prove Noor’s actions were objectively unreasonable at the time.

“If he’s acting outside of his training, then the level of justification is diminishing,” Choi said. “If you get information that says he did exactly what they told him to do, then there’s more justification.”