Civil lawsuit against Officer William Darby and City of Huntsville can move forward

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A civil lawsuit filed against Huntsville Police Officer William Darby and the City of Huntsville will move forward before Darby is sentenced for a murder conviction.

In May, Darby was found guilty of murder in the 2018 on-duty shooting of Jeffery Parker. His sentencing is scheduled to take place in August.

During a hearing Monday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke told the attorneys representing the Parker family and both the City of Huntsville and Officer Darby they can begin discovery in the civil case, but not depositions, as they await Darby’s sentencing.

“We don’t want to interfere with any of the criminal proceedings. And we’re not going to do that. We’re just…It’s been over three years and we’re just going to start the process. These things will take a while. They feel the wheels of justice are moving,” said Martin Weinberg, attorney representing the Parker family.

The Parker family lawsuit — filed in March 2020 — had been on hold since April 2020, at Darby’s request.

The stay was granted on 5th Amendment grounds: a defendant can’t be made to testify in a civil case while a criminal case is pending.

Lawyers for Huntsville Police Department Officer William Darby had asked the court to continue to delay the wrongful death lawsuit filed against him and the City of Huntsville.

Attorneys for Parker’s family argued Darby gave testimony in his criminal case, was found guilty and convicted.

“We believe that now that the people have had their chance to bring their case against Mr. Darby, it’s time for the family be heard in this civil case, and bringing their claims against not only officer Darby, but the city of Huntsville,” said Rip Andrews, attorney representing the Parker family.

Also discussed in court Monday was whether moving forward with the civil case would violate a gag order issued by the judge overseeing Darby’s criminal case. It was determined it would not effect the civil case or discovery.

Rip Andrews, one of the attorneys representing the Parker family, says they plan to file an amendment to their original complaint in the coming days.

“Obviously there has been more information uncovered through the criminal proceeding than when we had at the beginning when we filed our civil complaint. So, we intend to use some of that information and just to clarify some of our allegations.”

Attorneys representing the City of Huntsville and Darby said Monday they do not anticipate a delay in Darby’s sentencing hearing, which is currently set for August 20th. Judge Burke says he will evaluate where things stand once the criminal sentencing hearing takes place.

News 19 asked the attorneys representing Darby and the city for comment, but they declined the request saying they could not comment on pending litigation.

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