The city of Huntsville is again siding with a police officer convicted of murder and asking a federal court to delay action on a wrongful death lawsuit filed by relatives of the victim.
The city and officer William Darby, who has been on leave since being convicted last month of killing a mentally disturbed man while on duty in 2018, asked a judge to keep the lawsuit on hold until after Darby’s sentencing, set for Aug. 20, news outlets reported.
Relatives of Jeffrey Parker, who Darby shot to death while the man was holding a gun to his own head, contend it is time for the lawsuit, which was filed last year and delayed at Darby’s request, to move ahead.
The city and Darby argue the criminal case won’t be over until the sentencing hearing, and Darby is busy helping with a pre-sentencing investigation, which a judge will review to help determine his penalty. The city, in papers filed Wednesday, said it needs to know the final outcome of the criminal case to properly defend itself in the civil suit.
A hearing is set for June 21 on whether the case should go ahead.
The city initially cleared Darby of wrongdoing and then helped fund his defense after grand jurors indicted him on a murder charge. Both Mayor Tommy Battle and Police Chief Mark McMurray publicly criticized the verdict after jurors convicted Darby.
The city has started personnel hearings that could lead to the firing of Darby, who is free on bond and not working while using leave time. Darby was stripped of his police certification because of the murder conviction.
Two officers went to Parker’s home in 2018 after he called 911 saying he was suicidal and had a gun. The officers found Parker seated on a couch and holding a gun to his own head when they arrived, evidence showed.
One of the officers told jurors she was talking to Parker, 49, when Darby entered the house, ordered Parker to drop his weapon and shot him with a shotgun within seconds. Prosecutors argued that Darby had no justifiable reason to open fire.
Darby faces a prison sentence of 20 years to life, prosecutors have said.
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