HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The trial begins Monday for a Huntsville Police officer charged with murder.
Officer William Darby is accused of murdering Jeffery Parker in April 2018.
Parker called 911 saying he was suicidal. Officer Darby was the third officer to respond to Parker’s home on Deramus Avenue.
The man was shot by officer Darby after refusing to drop a gun that Parker had been holding to his own head.
After the shooting, a Huntsville Police Department Review Board found Darby acted within department policy.
The Madison County District Attorney’s Office disagreed. A Madison County grand jury indicted him for murder in August 2018.
“I think it’s notable that the DA, who is part of the law enforcement process, is saying that this needs to be a prosecuted case. We can’t ignore that,” Rosa Parks Committee Spokesperson David Person said.
Person is one of many who have been following the case.
He said there is a larger conversation to be had about tense interactions between officers and civilians; this comes after the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council releasing findings suggesting further training for HPD officers in response to the handling of June’s social justice protests.
“It raises questions, some of which have been raised in the recent audit and review of the police department. It raises real questions about training, not just as it relates to race relations but also specifically how do you engage people who are in crisis,” Person said.
He feels change in the fundamentals would behoove the city, regardless of the upcoming trial’s verdict.
“There’s got to be a different way of processing and handling those circumstances. For the sake of the next Mr. or Ms. Parker out there, we’ve got to see a different course of action taken,” he said.
The city is paying up to $125,000 for Darby’s defense. Darby’s attorneys argue he acted in self-defense to protect himself and other officers.
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