HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation arrested and charged a Huntsville Police officer with capital murder on Friday, January 7. Now, police reform activists say the department should have policies in place to evaluate officers’ mental standings – even after they are hired.
Huntsville Police officer David McCoy allegedly shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend at the apartment complex where he lived.
McCoy is now on administrative leave, but the city of Huntsville has not clarified if it is paid or unpaid leave.
“There is an inherent ethical and I would even say moral obligation for law enforcement entities to be as forthcoming as they can be with the public about the sorts of incidents,” activist David Person told News 19.
It’s reported that McCoy called in and told dispatchers that the victim Courtney Spraggins committed suicide. However, police later charged McCoy with shooting Spraggins in the head while she was inside a parked car.
“This should again be a real wake-up call to the Mayor and to the Chief of Police and to all the other decision-makers, that there has got to be a change in the culture of police,” Person said. “And that doesn’t just involve their engagement with people who are in crises that are civilians, but it involves the behaviors of their own officers.”
Police reform activists in the City of Huntsville question how McCoy’s personal issues went unnoticed and unchecked by department leaders. How was McCoy able to carry a gun and wear the badge to protect and serve?
“There’s got to be some sort of monitoring process. You know, I’m not saying that it should be ridiculously invasive,” Person said. “But there should be some sort of process by which the department can monitor the emotional well being the psychological well-being of officers.”
Person says promoting a good culture of policing means offering support for officers and having checks and balances.
“Not just because of the impact it will have on us as they deal with those of us who are civilians of the community, but for their own health and well being and for and for the health and well being of their family,” Person said.
McCoy was assigned two court-appointed attorneys Monday afternoon: Richard Jensen and Whitney Tillman.