HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — For two months after he was convicted by a jury of his peers, Huntsville Officer William Darby continued to get paid by the city of Huntsville before he eventually resigned from the Huntsville Police Department. The fact that a convicted murderer remained on payroll and received continuous support from city leaders left many residents and activists questioning the morality of Huntsville City Administration.
The Rosa Parks Day committee has been active in advocating for changes in policing and in the last year have called for the resignation of Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray and Mayor Tommy Battle.
At Darby’s sentencing on Friday August 20, he faces a sentence that could range from 20 years to life in prison for his conviction on a murder charge.
David Person with the Rosa Parks Day committee says the case brings to light issues that need to be addressed.
“Not just from the culture of policing to the unfortunate murder of Mr. Parker by former officer Darby but it also extends after the murder,” says Person. “We are hoping that the sentence that is meted out will be something that is reflective of what kind of city we want to be.”
Darby was cleared by a police shooting review board in 2018. A few months later he was indicted by a Madison County grand jury.
Huntsville City Council approved paying up to 125 thousand dollars for Darby’s defense. After the verdict, both Mayor Tommy Battle and Police Chief Mark McMurray released statements disagreeing with the jury’s guilty verdict. Darby remained on paid administrative leave for two months after the verdict until he voluntarily resigned.
“He should have been terminated and the fact that he wasn’t speaks to either a policy deficiency or a management deficiency with the city of Huntsville,” says Person.
Person says the timing of Darby’s sentencing is interesting considering Huntsville is seeking the spotlight.
“If we’re going to be, as mayor battle has said.. Not just the biggest city but the best city then that’s not a policy or a practice that is reflective of being the best city. Paying a convicted murderer,” says Person.
He says Darby being sentenced is the start, but the city needs to show true commitment to change of culture in policing starting with the police chief and mayor.
“We still believe the police chief needs to step down, we believe the police chief has been presiding over the unfortunate displays of Huntsville police officers that have been injurious to Huntsville citizens,” says Person.