HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate granted the public release Friday of body cam video evidence used in the prosecution of a former Huntsville police officer.
Attorneys for the Parker family held a news conference after the release of the video from the camera worn by Benjamin Darby who was convicted of the murder of Jeffery Parker. You can watch the video from Darby’s camera here.
WHNT News 19, following a request first made by AL.com, asked the judge who presided over the trial of former Huntsville Police Department officer William “Ben” Darby to release police body cam video used as evidence in the trial.
Pate issued an order Thursday acknowledging AL.com’s Aug. 17 request and asking the prosecution and defense to notify the court by 5 p.m., today, if they object to the body cam video release. Prosecutors from the Madison County District Attorney’s office informed the court Friday morning they have no objection.
The judge issued the release order late Friday morning after noting that neither side objected.
Court personnel told News 19 they are working on making copies of the recordings, but the process won’t be completed today.
The City of Huntsville, which is a co-defendant along with Darby in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Parker’s family, submitted an objection to the release Friday afternoon. The city’s filing argues body cam video is not subject to Alabama’s Open Records Act because it is a non-public, privileged law enforcement record.
Darby was convicted in May of murder in the April 2018 on-duty shooting of Jeffery Parker at Parker’s home off Deramus Avenue in Huntsville. On Aug. 20 Pate sentenced Darby to 25 years in prison.
The body camera video presented at the trial included video from the three officers who responded to Parker’s 911 call, during which he said he planned to shoot himself. Darby, who shot Parker within 11 seconds of entering his home, was found to have acted within policy by a Huntsville Police Department shooting review board.
Darby was the third officer on the scene. His defense attorney, Robert Tuten, argued that Darby’s actions were necessary to protect himself and another officer, Genisha Pegues, who was the first officer on the scene. Tuten argued Pegues was out of position and could have been shot by the armed Parker.
The prosecution argued Parker never moved his gun from his own head, had advised Pegues he wasn’t going to hurt her and they said he presented no imminent threat to Darby before he was shot.
A Madison County grand jury, which watched the body cam video, indicted Darby in August 2018. The trial jury deliberated six and a half hours before announcing its guilty verdict.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray both publicly disagreed with both the indictment of Darby and the guilty verdict. The City of Huntsville agreed in early 2019 to pay up to $125,000 for Darby’s defense. The full amount was spent on the case, Huntsville officials said.