Prosecutors in Huntsville officer’s murder case say city is refusing to turn over evidence

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Madison County prosecutors say the city of Huntsville has refused to turn over evidence in the murder case against a Huntsville police officer.

Prosecutors filed a motion Monday morning asking a Madison County judge to force the city to turn over evidence from an incident review board and from the Huntsville Police Department's own investigation into a shooting that ended with Officer William Darby charged with murder.

Jeffery Parker

Darby is accused of fatally shooting Jeffery Louis Parker, 49, in April. Parker had called 911 and said he was armed and suicidal at his home on Deramus Avenue, police said.

Police said Parker did not drop his gun after being told to do so, and an officer fired one shot, killing  him.

RELATED: Mayor says body camera footage of Parker shooting doesn't tell whole story

Darby was initially cleared when an incident review board determined he had acted within the Huntsville Police Department's policies and procedures. But the Madison County District Attorney's Office had concerns that the shooting wasn't justified and took it to a grand jury. The grand jury decided to indict him in August.

Monday's filing describes the incident review board process, noting three Huntsville Police Department captains make the decision. The filing notes that neither the captains or anyone else in attendance is allowed to ask questions or interview any witnesses.

The three officers involved in the incident gave sworn statements, the filing says, and Huntsville Police Department Academy staff gave statements that were “potentially exculpatory.”

But, the filing continues, the review board did not hear from the Major Crimes Unit investigator in charge of the criminal investigation into the shooting.

In Monday's motion, the Madison County District Attorney's Office said prosecutors asked on May 2 for evidence that the police department's incident review board gathered during its review of the shooting, as well as evidence from the Huntsville Police Department's Internal Affairs unit investigation. The Huntsville city attorney's office refused the request 6 days later, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors subpoenaed the same information Aug. 15 but were denied again on Aug. 24, they said.

“The City is neither a defendant nor a party in this criminal matter,” the filing argues. “It has in its possession potentially exculpatory materials relating to the issues that will be raised at trial. Those materials must be turned over to the State under the Alabama Rules of Evidence, the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Brady vs. Maryland.”

The filing argues the City of Huntsville has no authority to ignore a criminal subpoena. The filing contends that the city’s claim that the requested material is not a public record has no basis in law concerning a subpoena.

The filing argues, “No authority exists to suddenly make city records (whether public or not) protected from a validly issued subpoena” in a criminal case.

The filing also contends that the city’s legal citations related to the release of the records don’t address the requirements of a subpoena in a criminal case.

And, the filing argues, one of the cases cited has to do with self-incrimination of a police officer. The filing contends the defendant can challenge whether statements he made during the review process should be allowed into evidence during the trial, but it doesn’t mean city can withhold the material in the face of a subpoena.

Darby is currently free on bond. His trial date is set for late October.

The City of Huntsville provided the following statement late Monday afternoon from City Attorney Trey Riley

“The Motion to Compel from the District Attorney was filed just before noon and the City of Huntsville has not yet had opportunity to read and evaluate the filing or to respond thereto.  That being said, and in accord with the spirit of the so-called 'Gag Order' issued by Judge Pate, we would not intend to discuss this pleading, or the City’s response thereto, in the media but, instead, will respond in the setting of the judicial proceedings.”