Former Alabama Officer Is Sentenced to 25 Years for Murdering Suicidal Man

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Huntsville metropolis officials had spent $125,000 successful nationalist wealth to support William Darby, saying helium had been justified successful utilizing deadly unit erstwhile helium fatally changeable Jeffrey Parker, 49, successful 2018.

Jeffrey Parker, left, was killed by William Darby, a Huntsville, Ala., constabulary  officer, successful  2018.
Credit...From left: Parker family; Madison County Sheriff's Office, via Associated Press

Aug. 20, 2021Updated 7:49 p.m. ET

A erstwhile Huntsville, Ala., constabulary serviceman who fatally changeable a suicidal antheral was sentenced connected Friday to 25 years successful prison, capping a proceedings successful which helium was powerfully supported by metropolis officials who spent $125,000 successful nationalist wealth connected his ineligible defense.

The erstwhile officer, William Darby, 28, resigned from the unit lone past month, 2 months aft helium had been convicted of murdering Jeffrey Parker. Mr. Parker had called 911 connected April 3, 2018, to study that helium was suicidal, and helium was holding a weapon to his caput erstwhile the constabulary arrived, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the grounds showed that the archetypal serviceman connected the scene, Genisha Pegues, had been trying to assistance Mr. Parker, 49, erstwhile Mr. Darby showed up. Mr. Darby, who had been connected the unit for astir 18 months, changeable Mr. Parker 11 seconds aft entering his house, according to Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who represents Mr. Parker’s family.

City leaders had maintained that Mr. Darby was justified successful utilizing deadly force, and helium was cleared of wrongdoing by a constabulary reappraisal committee earlier helium was indicted connected a execution complaint successful August 2018 and past convicted connected May 7.

The Huntsville City Council voted to dedicate $125,000 successful nationalist wealth to Mr. Darby’s defense, the full sum of which was spent connected his case, metropolis officials said connected Friday. Mr. Darby besides remained connected the unit aft his conviction, archetypal connected paid administrative permission and past connected accrued permission with pay, earlier helium resigned connected July 23, metropolis officials said.

On Friday, a Huntsville metropolis spokeswoman declined to remark connected Mr. Darby’s sentencing.

“Mr. Darby’s attorneys person publically stated they are proceeding with an appeal, and the City believes it would beryllium inappropriate to marque immoderate comments oregon statements that mightiness interfere with that process,” the spokeswoman, Kelly Schrimsher, said successful a statement.

Mr. Darby had faced 20 years to beingness successful prison. His defence lawyer, Robert Tuten, who did not instantly respond to telephone calls and emails connected Friday, had asked for the minimum imaginable sentence. Mr. Darby had besides pleaded for mercy and leniency, according to AL.com.

“I judge it is evident I didn’t privation to termination him,” helium told Judge Donna S. Pate of the 23rd Judicial Circuit, AL.com reported.

Prosecutors, who had asked for a word of astatine slightest 25 years, said they were satisfied with the condemnation that Judge Pate handed down.

“At each turn, Mr. Darby refused to instrumentality immoderate work for what helium did, and helium would ne'er admit that helium did thing wrong,” Timothy R. Gann, the main lawman territory lawyer of Madison County, said successful an interrogation connected Friday.

“There was nary remorse from him astir the killing,” Mr. Gann said. “There was nary acknowledgment from him astir the gravity of what helium did. That was 1 of the astir disturbing things astir the case.”

Officers called to Mr. Parker’s location recovered him “suicidal” and holding a gun, the constabulary said successful a connection successful August 2018. After Mr. Parker disregarded respective orders to driblet his weapon, Mr. Darby fatally changeable him, the constabulary said.

According to a suit filed by Mr. Parker’s family, Mr. Darby was the 3rd serviceman to get astatine Mr. Parker’s location that day.

Officer Pegues had entered with her weapon pointed down and recovered Mr. Parker sitting connected a sofa with a weapon to his head, according to the lawsuit. She had been talking to him erstwhile Mr. Darby arrived astir 5 minutes later, according to the lawsuit.

Mr. Darby began screaming astatine Officer Pegues portion helium was inactive successful the beforehand yard, according to the lawsuit, telling her to constituent her weapon astatine Mr. Parker due to the fact that “he tin sprout you!” Mr. Darby past repeatedly yelled astatine Mr. Parker to enactment his weapon down earlier firing a azygous changeable that killed Mr. Parker, the suit states.

About a period later, a reappraisal committee convened by the Huntsville Police Department concluded that Mr. Darby’s usage of deadly unit had been “within policy,” the metropolis said.

Huntsville’s constabulary main contended that Mr. Darby had been protecting not lone himself but besides his chap officers.

“We are successful the archetypal stages of shock,” the chief, Mark McMurray, said successful a connection aft Mr. Darby was convicted successful May. “While we convey the assemblage for their work successful this hard case, I bash not judge Officer Darby is simply a murderer. Officers are forced to marque split-second decisions each day, and Officer Darby believed his beingness and the lives of different officers were successful danger.”

Mayor Tommy Battle had besides expressed disagreement with the verdict, saying successful May that Mr. Darby “followed the due information protocols successful his effect connected the scene” and was “doing what helium was trained to bash successful the enactment of duty.”

Mr. Gann said connected Friday that helium was stunned by the enactment that Mr. Darby had received from metropolis officials.

“It’s astonishing that they would person a feline indicted for execution and past spell to the City Council for wealth to support him and, adjacent aft he’s convicted, proceed to wage him,” helium said.

Mr. Parker had a fiancée and liked euphony and moving with his hands, Mr. Weinberg said. Bill Parker, Mr. Parker’s brother, thanked region prosecutors for making the “difficult choice” to prosecute the case.

Speaking astatine a quality league with the relatives of different radical killed by the police, helium asked for the Justice Department to analyse what helium described arsenic the excessive usage of unit by the Huntsville constabulary against radical experiencing intelligence wellness crises.

“In those cases, we whitethorn oregon whitethorn not spot justice,” Mr. Parker said connected Friday. “This is simply a bittersweet time for Huntsville. And I anticipation — I sincerely anticipation — that this fantastic metropolis that I grew up successful astir of my beingness takes due action.”

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