HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Former Huntsville Police Officer William Darby was convicted of murder May and given a 25-year prison term – now, his appeal is set to be submitted by December 14.
Darby was convicted for the 2018 on-duty shooting of Jeffrey Parker, who had called 911 saying he was suicidal. Darby’s lawyers have argued the use of deadly force was justified, but Parker’s family has sued Darby and the City of Huntsville.
The city has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, saying there is no evidence the Darby case an other incidents show that the city a policy or custom of tolerating excessive force by its police department.
The lawsuit alleges Darby used excessive force in killing Parker, and that Darby’s use of excessive force was caused, in part, by the City of Huntsville’s customs and practices. The lawsuit points to statements made by Mayor Tommy Battle and police officials praising Darby for acting within policy. It also points out the city agreed to pay $125,000 for his criminal expense.
The city argues courts have rejected the argument that a review board finding clearing Darby, or post-incident comments by officials amount of approval or support for unconstitutional violations by Darby.
“However, when it is judicially determined that the employee committed murder, and thus violated the Constitution and a municipality admits that employee followed policy, this is a classic admission by a party opponent,” argued attorneys for the Parker family.
The City’s attorneys argue, “Without allegations to support that the prior uses of force were actually found to be excessive or constitutionally inappropriate, there is nothing to support plaintiff’s conclusion of a custom of tolerating.”
“Excessive force simply because the IRB or other ‘HPD Supervisors’ found the previous uses of force to be ‘appropriate’,” the court filing continued.
The lawsuit also points out the police department disciplined the two other officers on the scene the day of the fatal shooting, while keeping Darby employed after his conviction. The arguments for the appeal of that murder conviction are due to be filed by Tuesday.