Family Gets Justice in Wrongful Death of Mentally Ill Man
(AL) – William Darby, with the Huntsville Police Department in Alabama, was sentenced on Friday. Darby had previously been convicted for the murder of Jeff Parker while Mr. Parker was having a mental health crisis. The incident happened in April of 2018. Mr. Parker contacted police saying he was going to kill himself.
Two officers responded. Both officers had their weapons out, but pointed toward the ground. The officers were attempting to de-escalate the situation. Then, 26-year old Officer Darby arrived on the scene and shoved his way past the other two officers. Though he was the junior officer of the three, he decided the situation wasn’t being handled correctly. Darby shot Parker in the face 11 seconds after entering the house.
Once Darby was convicted, his attorney requested the minimum sentence, 20 years. Witnesses gave speeches of what a wonderful Christian man Darby is, but the judge was not swayed. The judge went with the prosecution’s recommendation of 25 years.
Internal Affairs Investigation
At the time of the shooting Darby had only been with the police department for 18 months. An internal affairs investigation was conducted.
Officer Pegues stood partially in the doorway with her gun pointed down. Officer Beckles stood behind her. When Darby shoved his way into the residence, he forced Officer Pegues further into the room. Darby then screamed at Officer Pegues, “Point your (expletive) gun at him! He can shoot you!” Darby then yelled a couple of times at Parker to drop his weapon then shot him in the face with his shotgun.
Jeff Parker had a flare gun aimed at his head and never moved it away. He never made any threatening moves against the officers. Bodycam evidence shows that he stayed sitting back on his couch with a foot propped up on a coffee table.
Law Enforcement Agencies Support Police Violence
According to AL.com,
Darby testified that he had to take over the situation from Pegues, a senior officer, because he believed she was putting herself in danger by talking to Parker.
So this arrogant little rookie who didn’t ask for any information and didn’t know what was going on, decided he needed to take over. I suspect Darby has some misogynistic beliefs.
Is anyone surprised that the internal affairs investigation determined it was a justified shooting? And is anyone surprised with the following,
Though an incident review board cleared Darby of wrongdoing following the shooting, Pegues and a Beckles were ordered to undergo remedial training. Pegues has since resigned from the department.
The police officer who barged into a situation and escalated it, ending with killing someone who wasn’t threatening him, was justified. The two officers who remained calm and attempted to talk the man into putting his weapon down were punished. Unfortunately, this is not an unusual result in law enforcement.
County and City Go to War
Once the Madison County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the bodycam video, they came to a different conclusion than the police department. They did their own criminal investigation and took the findings to a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury handed down an indictment.
Naturally the police chief was angry, but the city mayor, Tommy Battle, decided he knew better than the District Attorney.
Battle said since the indictment was issued he’s had “some vigorous conversations” with Broussard about their competing conclusions in the case.
That sure sounds like someone trying to interfere with a criminal case to me.
Government Siding Against Citizens
Battle was so upset that he got the city counsel to agree to pay up to $125,000 toward Darby’s defense. Only one of the five members saw the video evidence, but they still voted in favor.
It gets worse. It’s common for a law enforcement agency to suspend a police officer with pay during an investigation. Once the officer is arrested or even as soon as the arrest warrant gets issued, most agencies will change the status to unpaid. Especially if it’s a murder charge.
The City of Huntsville went beyond that. They paid him during the investigation. They paid him after the indictment. And they even continued to pay William Darby for more than two months after he was convicted! That’s just unbelievable. As far as I can tell, the only reason they stopped paying him is because Darby eventually resigned. I just can’t get over that. The man was convicted of murder and they kept paying him a salary!
Jail Time for William Darby
Darby was out on bond during this whole time, but there is no appeal bond for him. He was sentenced then taken to jail. The mayor is claiming the jury got it wrong and implying it was too technical for them to understand the real situation.
The police chief says his department is stunned and he insists that Darby did nothing wrong. Officer Pegues resigned and has applied with the FBI. It’s disgraceful that Police Chief Mark McMurray chose to be supportive of the officer who murdered a person rather than support those who tried to save a life.