HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A federal judge denied a request made by the City of Huntsville to be removed as a defendant in the case of William “Ben” Darby, a former Huntsville police officer convicted of murder.
The court said it would not dismiss the city as a defendant, finding that the defense plausibly argued Huntsville had a policy that “caused Officer Darby’s unconstitutional conduct.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of Jeffrey Parker, a suicidal man shot by Darby in the line of duty at his home in 2018.
The court’s order says the family’s attorney Douglas Martinson “alleges that, in the years before and after Parker’s death, the City had a policy of encouraging HPD officers to commit acts of ‘aggression and escalation when dealing with mentally ill and/or suicidal persons’ which resulted in the systematic use of excessive force.”
The lawsuit argues the policy was the “driving force behind” Darby’s actions.
The lawsuit further alleged that City officials have stated publicly that Darby “followed the City’s policies on the use of force and did nothing wrong” and the HPD panel of supervisors investigating the incident reported that Darby’s “use of deadly force was proper and just” and followed the City’s policy.
The court order states the City argued that Martinson failed to “establish a plausible municipal liability claim under the theories of ‘failure to train’ and ‘ratification.'”
The judge stated in his order that “Martinson’s allegations — at a minimum — plausibly establish that the City’s ‘use of force’ policy directed or authorized Officer Darby to employ unconstitutional force against Parker.”
News 19 has reached out to the City of Huntsville for a statement.