HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Lawyers for the city of Huntsville are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court Wednesday to argue why the city should be dismissed as a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Jeffrey Parker.
Parker was killed in April 2018 by then-Huntsville Police Department Officer William “Ben” Darby. Darby was among the officers who responded to a 911 call Parker made, telling dispatchers he planned to kill himself. Darby was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Parker’s family sued Darby and the city of Huntsville on wrongful death and excessive force claims.
U.S. District Judge Liles Burke ordered oral arguments focused on the city’s motion to dismiss claims against it. The Parker family lawyers argue Darby’s shooting of Parker was part of a larger pattern of excessive force within the Huntsville Police Department, and that he acted according to his training.
The defense also points to arguments supporting Darby by HPD officials and Mayor Tommy Battle, who contend that Darby’s actions were consistent with HPD policy and his training. The plaintiffs also contend HPD’s review board usually sided with officers in use of force cases.
Attorneys for the city of Huntsville contend the plaintiffs haven’t shown a pattern of misconduct or a failure to discipline officers. The defense argues to show Huntsville’s liability for excessive force the plaintiffs have to make a case that excessive force is a custom or practice of HPD.
The defense also contends one event is not a pattern of conduct and that HPD has policies and procedures prohibiting excessive force.
Darby is appealing his murder conviction. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 10 at Samford University.