Self-defense a possibility in sergeant’s fatal shooting of Bronx woman

A New York Police Department sergeant was stripped of his gun and badge after fatally shooting a 66-year-old woman with a history of erratic behavior inside her Bronx apartment.

NYPD Assistant Chief Larry Nikunen said the sergeant responded to a neighbor’s 911 call about the emotionally disturbed woman’s irrational behavior. Upon entering the seventh-floor apartment, he found her alone in a bedroom holding a pair of scissors.

The sergeant convinced the woman to drop the scissors. However, she grabbed a wooden baseball bat and tried to hit him with it, according to police. Nikunen said the sergeant reacted by firing two shots from his revolver, striking the woman in her torso. She was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.

The sergeant, who is an eight-year NYPD veteran, was placed on modified duty. Nikunen said he was armed with a stun gun at the time but did not use it. Police are investigating the incident and trying to determine why the sergeant opted to use deadly force instead of his Taser.

At issue is whether the sergeant acted in self-defense in shooting the woman, in which case the deadly use of force would be justified. A baseball bat can be considered a deadly weapon as it can pose an imminent threat of serious injury or death. To show the sergeant’s act was not one of self-defense, it would have to be proven that the woman was so physically weak that swinging the bat would not have resulted in a serious bodily injury.

NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said the shooting was justified as the sergeant opened fire only because he was “fearing for his own life, as well as the lives of others.”

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