A former Huntsville, Ala., police officer who fatally shot a suicidal man was sentenced on Friday to 25 years in jail, capping a trial during which he was strongly supported by metropolis officers who spent $125,000 in public cash on his authorized protection.
The previous officer, William Darby, 28, resigned from the pressure solely final month, two months after he had been convicted of murdering Jeffrey Parker. Mr. Parker had known as 911 on April 3, 2018, to report that he was suicidal, and he was holding a gun to his head when the police arrived, prosecutors mentioned.
Prosecutors mentioned the proof confirmed that the primary officer on the scene, Genisha Pegues, had been making an attempt to assist Mr. Parker, 49, when Mr. Darby confirmed up. Mr. Darby, who had been on the pressure for about 18 months, shot Mr. Parker 11 seconds after getting into his home, in keeping with Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who represents Mr. Parker’s household.
Metropolis leaders had maintained that Mr. Darby was justified in utilizing lethal pressure, and he was cleared of wrongdoing by a police overview board earlier than he was indicted on a homicide cost in August 2018 after which convicted on Could 7.
The Huntsville Metropolis Council voted to dedicate $125,000 in public cash to Mr. Darby’s protection, the whole sum of which was spent on his case, metropolis officers mentioned on Friday. Mr. Darby additionally remained on the pressure after his conviction, first on paid administrative go away after which on accrued go away with pay, earlier than he resigned on July 23, metropolis officers mentioned.
On Friday, a Huntsville metropolis spokeswoman declined to touch upon Mr. Darby’s sentencing.
“Mr. Darby’s attorneys have publicly acknowledged they’re continuing with an attraction, and the Metropolis believes it could be inappropriate to make any feedback or statements which may intrude with that course of,” the spokeswoman, Kelly Schrimsher, mentioned in an announcement.
Mr. Darby had confronted 20 years to life in jail. His protection lawyer, Robert Tuten, who didn’t instantly reply to telephone calls and emails on Friday, had requested for the minimal doable sentence. Mr. Darby had additionally pleaded for mercy and leniency, in keeping with AL.com.
“I imagine it’s evident I didn’t need to kill him,” he advised Decide Donna S. Pate of the twenty third Judicial Circuit, AL.com reported.
Prosecutors, who had requested for a time period of not less than 25 years, mentioned they had been glad with the sentence that Decide Pate handed down.
“At each flip, Mr. Darby refused to take any duty for what he did, and he would by no means admit that he did something incorrect,” Timothy R. Gann, the chief deputy district lawyer of Madison County, mentioned in an interview on Friday.
“There was no regret from him in regards to the killing,” Mr. Gann mentioned. “There was no acknowledgment from him in regards to the gravity of what he did. That was one of the vital disturbing issues in regards to the case.”
Officers known as to Mr. Parker’s home discovered him “suicidal” and holding a gun, the police mentioned in an announcement in August 2018. After Mr. Parker disregarded a number of orders to drop his weapon, Mr. Darby fatally shot him, the police mentioned.
In keeping with a lawsuit filed by Mr. Parker’s household, Mr. 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 keeping with the lawsuit. She had been speaking to him when Mr. Darby arrived about 5 minutes later, in keeping with the lawsuit.
Mr. Darby started screaming at Officer Pegues whereas he was nonetheless within the entrance yard, in keeping with the lawsuit, telling her to level her gun at Mr. Parker as a result of “he can shoot you!” Mr. 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.
A couple of month later, a overview board convened by the Huntsville Police Division concluded that Mr. Darby’s use of lethal pressure had been “inside coverage,” town mentioned.
Huntsville’s police chief contended that Mr. Darby had been defending not solely himself but in addition his fellow officers.
“We’re within the first phases of shock,” the chief, Mark McMurray, mentioned in an announcement after Mr. Darby was convicted in Could. “Whereas we thank the jury for his or her service on this troublesome case, I don’t imagine Officer Darby is a assassin. Officers are compelled to make split-second choices day by day, and Officer Darby believed his life and the lives of different officers had been at risk.”
Mayor Tommy Battle had additionally expressed disagreement with the decision, saying in Could that Mr. Darby “adopted the suitable security protocols in his response on the scene” and was “doing what he was skilled to do within the line of obligation.”
Mr. Gann mentioned on Friday that he was surprised by the assist that Mr. Darby had obtained from metropolis officers.
“It’s astonishing that they’d have a man indicted for homicide after which go to the Metropolis Council for cash to defend him and, even after he’s convicted, proceed to pay him,” he mentioned.
Mr. Parker had a fiancée and appreciated music and dealing along with his arms, Mr. Weinberg mentioned. Invoice Parker, Mr. Parker’s brother, thanked county prosecutors for making the “troublesome alternative” to pursue the case.
Talking at a information convention with the relations of different folks killed by the police, he requested for the Justice Division to research what he described because the extreme use of pressure by the Huntsville police towards folks experiencing psychological well being crises.
“In these circumstances, we could or could not see justice,” Mr. Parker mentioned on Friday. “It is a unhappy day for Huntsville. And I hope — I sincerely hope — that this excellent metropolis that I grew up in most of my life takes acceptable motion.”