Huntsville, AL — In 2018, officer William Darby shot and killed Jeffrey Parker. He was convicted of murder in May and despite his conviction, for months, he remained on the force and even collected a paycheck. That has all changed, however, as Darby was just sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The facts against Darby were so overwhelming that there was no way to avoid a conviction and even the prosecution apologized for charging a cop, saying there was no way to avoid it.
As AL.com reports, Tim Gann, chief deputy district attorney in Madison County, said no one in his office wanted to prosecute a police officer.
“I think that’s the worst thing we face is making that decision,” he said, “because we do understand it’s a dangerous job, we do understand that they’re in harms way.”
But Darby’s actions were “so far out of the norm that he’s got to be held accountable for that,” Gann said.
“This is not about training,” he said. “He (Darby) was trained properly. This is about going outside of the training and violating Alabama law.”
Darby was charged with killing Parker, 49, at his home in April 2018. Darby shot Parker as he sat in his home with a gun to his own head, talking to another Huntsville police officer, Genisha Pegues who did not see him as a threat. Parker had called 911 and told a dispatcher he planned to shoot himself. The shooting was captured on body camera footage and showed that Darby's use of force was entirely unjustified.
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During the trial, Pegues testified that she was de-escalating the situation when Darby barged in and killed Parker. As the body camera footage showed, Darby grabbed a shotgun from his car, kicked in the door, yelled at his fellow cop to point her gun at Parker and then shot Parker in the face with a shotgun, killing him — all within a few seconds. Parker never once pointed the gun at anyone but himself.
"An innocent man was murdered," Tim Gann, Madison County's chief trial attorney, told the jury at the time of Darby's trial. "He called for help and he got Ben Darby."
After being shown the footage and the facts, the jury took just two hours to deliver the guilty verdict. This was in spite of the city footing the bill for Darby's defense and used $125,000 of taxpayer funds for his attorney.
Following Parker's death in 2018, Darby was placed on desk duty and continued to work despite facing murder charges. On May 7, Darby was convicted of murder for killing Parker and despite this conviction, he collected a paycheck until July when he resigned. Instead of firing him, the police chief defended the killer cop.
"We are in the first stages of shock," Chief McMurray said in a statement after Darby's conviction. "While we thank the jury for their service in this difficult case, I do not believe Officer Darby is a murderer."
He added, "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. Any situation that involves a loss of life is tragic. Our hearts go out to everyone involved."
Given that the mayor has already made a statement that Darby should appeal, it is highly possible that this convicted murderer will remain a cop on the taxpayer dime until that appeal, which could also be funded by the taxpayers.
“Jeff was in a mental state,” said Bill Parks, Parker’s best friend. “Jeff had issues. Jeff asked for help and it’s very confusing to think that’s by the book, apparently, for Huntsville police, it’s OK to barge in ferociously, militantly, yelling and screaming at someone who had asked for help. To say he was showing an imminent threat to the police, Genisha Pegues showed that was not the case.”