HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Less than 24 hours after a former Huntsville police officer was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder — his defense is now readying an appeal.
Expected to be at the heart of that appeal: whether former Huntsville police officer William “Ben” Darby was following the law and his police training when he shot and killed 49- year-old Jeffery Parker.
At yesterday’s sentencing, an attorney for Parker’s family was adamant that the jury got it right.
“He murdered this man,” said Parker family attorney Martin Weinberg, speaking shortly after William “Ben” Darby was led off in handcuffs to begin serving a 25-year sentence. “I mean it was nothing less. It wasn’t just a shooting. It wasn’t just within his duties.”
In 2018, Darby shot Parker after bursting into his home on Deramus Avenue, where he found the 49-year-old with a gun to his head, talking to another Huntsville police officer – who testified she was trying to deescalate the situation.
Parker had called 911 and told a dispatcher he planned to shoot himself.
At the sentencing hearing, Darby asked the judge for leniency, saying he had “no evil intent” at the time of the shooting. And Darby’s defense attorney suggested that a severe sentence would impact how police enforce the law — afterward announcing his client’s intent to appeal the conviction.
“This will show that Ben followed the law and the training based on the law and when the appellate court reviews this, I think they’re going to have a different opinion about this than what the jury did,” Darby’s attorney Robert Tuten said.
Meanwhile, the prosecution, standing by the central argument of its case – that Darby’s actions were so far outside of his training, so far outside of the law – that he needed to be held accountable.
Outside the courthouse, Jeffery Parker’s family and friends stood side by side with other families of alleged police misconduct.
“This is a sad day for Huntsville, and I sincerely hope that this wonderful city that I grew up in most of my life takes appropriate action,” Bill Parker, Jeffery Parker’s brother said.
At the moment, it’s still unclear where William “Ben” Darby will begin serving his sentence.
His attorney says no matter where he is sent — he’ll be isolated from the general population.