May 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Local police shocked after Alabama officer convicted of murdering suicidal man

A jury in Alabama on Friday convicted Huntsville police officer William “Ben” Darby of murder in the fatal shooting of a suicidal man in 2018, AP reported.

Driving the news: Darby killed Jeffrey Parker while responding to a 911 call in which the man said he was armed and planned to kill himself. Parker was aiming a gun to his own head when Darby shot him, per AP.

  • The conviction carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Catch up quick: A city police review had previously cleared Darby of wrongdoing and he was allowed to remain a police officer, AP reported.

  • Prosecutors argued Darby killed an innocent man without cause. “He called for help and he got Ben Darby," prosecutor Tim Gann said in closing arguments.
  • The defense team said that Darby was justified in killing Parker, arguing the man posed a threat to the officers.

What they're saying: Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard welcomed the verdict, saying the “facts bore out there was nothing justified about this encounter.”

  • Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle condemned the conviction, saying in a statement: "Fortunately, Officer Darby has the same appeal rights as any other citizen and is entitled to exercise those rights,” per AP.
  • Huntsville police chief Mark McMurray said the verdict left local police "in the first stages of shock," according to AP.
  • "I do not believe Officer Darby is a murderer," McMurry 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."

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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