City of Huntsville asks judge to quash DA’s office subpoena in police officer murder case

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The City of Huntsville is asking a judge to reject a subpoena from prosecutors that seeks police shooting review board records in the murder case of officer William Darby, court records show.

Darby, 25, was indicted in August on the murder charge following an on-duty fatal shooting of Jeffery Louis Parker in April on Deramus Avenue. Parker had called 911 and told a dispatcher he was planning to “blow his brains out.”

The Huntsville Police Department’s shooting review board determined Darby acted within policy in the shooting, but the Madison County District Attorney’s office later reviewed the case and submitted it to a grand jury. The grand jury indicted Darby on a murder charge.

The city’s court filing Monday argued that it should not have to turn over shooting review board records because the review board process essentially requires an officer to testify, or face the prospect of losing his job.

Attorneys for Huntsville argue the law is clear, that compelled testimony cannot later be used against the officer in a criminal proceeding.

Huntsville’s attorneys also argue that if Darby’s case were to be harmed by use of his own statement against him, it would have a “chilling effect” on future incident review boards because officers would be reluctant to testify.

If the court does not quash the subpoena, Huntsville offered an alternative proposal for releasing the records.

It said it would provide a sealed copy to the court for its “exclusive review” and a copy to the defense. It did not offer a copy to the DA’s office, which filed the subpoena and is asking the court to enforce it.

Huntsville also disputed a claim in a recent court filing by the DA’s office that questions during the shooting review board were sharply limited. The City contends the district attorney and his chief deputy were invited to ask questions or make comments, so were the police captains on the shooting review board.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has spoken up on Darby’s behalf, saying he acted within department policy. Battle successfully persuaded the Huntsville City Council to pay at least $75,000 for Darby’s criminal defense.

Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard held a press conference the day Darby was indicted and explained why his office brought the case to a grand jury.

“Usually what you’re looking at is whether an officer reasonably feared for his life, before he was forced, to take, to use deadly physical force,” Broussard said. “And on these particular facts of the case, we had concern.”

Prosecutors contend the shooting review board records could potentially be “exculpatory,” meaning evidence that could help Darby win his case. Because of that, the prosecution argues, it has to turn that material over to the defense.

A hearing on the matter is set for Friday morning.

Darby is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 29.