A police officer in Huntsville, Ala., was convicted of homicide on Friday for fatally taking pictures a man who had referred to as 911 to report that he was suicidal and who was holding a gun to his head when the police arrived, prosecutors stated.
The officer, William Darby, who had been strongly defended by the Police Department and cleared of wrongdoing by a metropolis overview board, will face 20 years to life in jail when he’s sentenced for the killing of Jeffrey Parker, 49, on April 3, 2018, in accordance with prosecutors.
The verdict surprised town’s regulation enforcement leaders, who had maintained that Officer Darby was justified in utilizing lethal pressure. The case had been carefully watched by Alabama cops as a result of of how incessantly they reply to requires individuals in psychological well being crises.
“We are in the first stages of shock,” the Huntsville police chief, Mark McMurray, stated in a assertion. “While we thank the jury for their service in this difficult case, I do not believe Officer Darby is a murderer. Officers are forced to make split-second decisions every day, and Officer Darby believed his life and the lives of other officers were in danger.”
Prosecutors stated the proof confirmed that the primary officer on the scene, Genisha Pegues, had been making an attempt to assist Mr. Parker when Officer Darby confirmed up. Officer Darby, who was 25 and had been on the pressure for about 18 months, shot Mr. Parker 11 seconds after getting into his home, in accordance with Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who represents Mr. Parker’s household.
“In this particular case, there was zero hostility or aggression by Mr. Parker when the officers arrived,” the Madison County district legal professional, Robert L. Broussard, stated at a information convention. Yet Officer Darby’s response was “off the charts,” he stated.
“The facts of the case bore out that there was nothing justified about this encounter with Mr. Parker, and justice was served,” Mr. Broussard stated.
Officers referred to as to Mr. Parker’s home discovered him “suicidal” and holding a gun, the police stated in a assertion in August 2018. After Mr. Parker disregarded a number of orders to drop his weapon, Officer Darby fatally shot him, the police stated.
According to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Parker’s household, Officer Darby was the third officer to reach at Mr. Parker’s home that day.
Officer Pegues had entered along with her gun pointed down and located Mr. Parker sitting on a sofa with a gun to his head, in accordance with the lawsuit. She had been speaking to him when Officer Darby arrived about 5 minutes later, in accordance with the lawsuit.
Officer Darby started screaming at Officer Pegues whereas he was nonetheless within the entrance yard, in accordance with the lawsuit, telling her to level her gun at Mr. Parker as a result of “he can shoot you!” Officer Darby then repeatedly yelled at Mr. Parker to place his gun down earlier than firing a single shot that killed Mr. Parker, the lawsuit states.
About a month later, a overview board convened by the Huntsville Police Department concluded that Officer Darby’s use of lethal pressure had been “within policy,” town stated.
But a Madison County grand jury indicted the officer in August 2018.
At Officer Darby’s trial, Officer Pegues testified that she had by no means felt that Mr. Parker was a risk, and a prosecutor argued that Officer Darby had been the preliminary aggressor, in accordance with WSFA, a native tv station.
Officer Darby’s lawyer, Robert Tuten, contended that Officer Darby had not been the preliminary aggressor and had been defending not solely himself however his fellow officers, WFSA reported. After the decision on Friday, Mr. Tuten vowed to attraction.
“To say that people are shocked by this verdict would be a big understatement,” Mr. Tuten stated at a information convention. “This was a very important case to Alabama law enforcement,” he added, and will have an effect on the way in which officers all through the state reply to individuals with weapons and threats of suicide.
“Everybody has been watching this,” Mr. Tuten stated.
Mayor Tommy Battle stated that he disagreed with the decision and that Officer Darby had the precise to attraction. “Officer Darby followed the appropriate safety protocols in his response on the scene,” he stated in a assertion. “He was doing what he was trained to do in the line of duty.”
Bill Parks, a longtime good friend of Mr. Parker’s, stated he hoped that the conviction would immediate officers to reply extra humanely to individuals in psychological well being crises.
At a information convention on Friday, Mr. Parks stated his good friend had been “a very kind soul” who had liked music and “could fix anything” however who had additionally had his “demons.”
“He just asked for help,” Mr. Parks stated. “He wanted help, and what ended up in a situation where he asked for help turned out terribly.”