MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Former Huntsville Police Department (HPD) officer William Darby has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, ending a case that began in 2018.
Darby’s saga included a murder conviction and reversal of that conviction, and he was set to go on trial again in December.
“Within the last week, his attorneys reached out to us saying they’d like to resolve the case and, really, that was fine with us from the get-go. Four years ago, three years ago, whenever it first came through, if we could solve the case satisfactorily in our mind, we were looking to do that,” Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard told News 19.
He pleaded guilty today to a manslaughter charge, according to the Madison County District Attorney’s office. He had been facing a murder charge for the 2018 on-duty shooting of Jeffery Parker.
The plea agreement includes a twenty-year sentence but Darby will receive credit from his prior prison term where he served 20 months and will not serve any additional prison time.
You can read the entire sentencing order here.
The sentence includes three years probation and he waived his right to appeal, the DA’s office said.
The plea came as a surprise to many, including Jeffrey Parker’s family.
“They’re glad this is over, I mean it was a surprise that it happened. I mean, we were prepared that the case was going to trial,” said the Parker family attorney Martin Weinberg to News 19.
Darby’s attorney Robert Tuten provided a statement to News 19 Friday afternoon.
“There is a fine line between recklessness and self-defense,” Tuten said. “Where that line falls often depends on one’s perspective. An opportunity presented itself today. Ben Darby took advantage of the opportunity and made a decision that is the best for himself and his family, ends the criminal case and ensures that Ben will not serve any more time in prison.”
“It’s a relief, you know? If somebody were to ask me in my 35-year career what is the most unpleasant thing to have to handle, it would have to be, it would be this. This particular case. Just the nature, of it. That you actually have to prosecute a police officer, because we have the greatest respect for that profession,” Broussard added.
Darby was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in 2021 for the on-duty shooting of Jeffery Parker at Parker’s home in Huntsville in 2018. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed that conviction in March.
“We always viewed the case as not your run-of-the-mill case. What he did was clearly unlawful, but it was never lost on us that what he did was during the course of his job, which is not an easy job. I understand that, and it doesn’t forgive the act you committed if it was against the law, but we always had a tip of the hat to the profession and we’re very happy that it’s resolved.”
The City of Huntsville declined News 19’s request for comment Friday afternoon. An HPD Spokesperson said the department does not plan on making a statement on the case.