Another Cop Accused Of Murder Gets A GoFundMe Campaign

GoFundMe's current rules do not allow campaigns for people charged with crimes, but that hasn't stopped people from donating more than $23,000 to Hugh Barry's case

Sgt. Hugh Barry has been charged with the murder of a mentally ill black woman. — REUTERS
Jun 02, 2017 at 10:13 AM ET

A New York police officer was charged with murder on Wednesday. A GoFundMe campaign on behalf of New York Police Department Sgt. Hugh Barry was launched on Thursday. By Friday morning, it had received more than $23,000 of its $500,000 goal.

The campaign comes after Barry, who fatally shot Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old black woman with schizophrenia, last October, became the first NYPD cop to be charged with murder in 17 years.

“The charges that Sergeant Barry faces are a travesty,” wrote the person who set up the fundraiser, who is using the name Greg Sanfilippo. “And, now the tragedy of the situation has been compounded by the travesty of charging a fine person with criminal intent.”

Sanfilippo, who wrote that he had worked with Barry for five years, “watched him compassionately assist people of all ages, colors, and circumstances. He added: “Throughout it all, Hugh’s character, moral fiber, and professionalism was a model for other officers.”

Despite the praise for Barry on GoFundMe, many questions remain surrounding the fatal shooting. In October, Danner’s neighbors called the police, who had dealt with her before and were familiar with her issues, because she was acting irrationally. Barry claimed that Danner was armed with a pair of scissors, but dropped them. She then allegedly picked up a baseball bat and tried to hit him, so he shot her twice in self-defense. But community and mental illness advocates and, most prominently, NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, were quick to condemn Barry’s actions.

“Deborah Danner should be alive right now. Period,” de Blasio said the day after the incident. “We did fail and we need to say it out loud.”

Barry is accused of not following NYPD protocol on emotionally disturbed people or waiting for a specially trained unit to arrive. He also did not try less lethal means of countering Danner’s alleged attack on him, such as his Taser, the prosecutor in his case said on Wednesday.

GoFundMe’s policies allow for money to be raised on behalf of police officers, but, as of its current policy, does not allow fundraisers for “defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity.” This still hasn’t stopped others from creating campaigns for those involved in high-profile, police-related deaths. A Sept. 2014 campaign on behalf of Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, raised $500,000. But with a previous fundraiser for the South Carolina officer who was charged with the murder of Walter Scott getting removed, it could signal that Barry’s may also be pulled. GoFundMe did not immediately respond to Vocativ’s request for comment.

In addition to being charged with second-degree murder, Barry was charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. He has been suspended without pay.