Huntsville, AL – The Huntsville City Council voted unanimously Aug. 9 to give $75,000 towards the defense of one of its police officers indicted on murder charges.
Huntsville Police Officer William Darby was indicted on a murder charge earlier in August for the on-duty shooting in April of Jeffery Parker, according to WHNT-TV.
The council voted 4-0 to pay the costs.
If the costs of his defense exceed $75,000, it would have to come back for review by the city council.
The indictment went against the findings of the Huntsville Police Department’s review of the case.
The shooting’s review board decision was announced in May. The Huntsville Police Department found that “all officers involved performed within Huntsville Police policies, procedures and training,” according to WHNT.
But the Mason County District Attorney’s officer proceeded with the murder charge.
The grand jury that indicted Officer Darby saw body camera video of the incident from all three officers as well as their recorded interviews after the shooting, WHNT reported.
The grand jury also heard from Huntsville Police Department witnesses who testified about the department’s training.
The focus seemed to be on the dead suspect being mentally ill, implying that mental illness makes somebody less of a threat.
The Parker family attorney told AL.com, "This incident centers on the growing concern about the mistreatment of the mentally ill by law enforcement. We have to put more resources into training law enforcement on how to deal with the mentally ill."
The shooting happened April 3 and it started when Parker called 911. He said he was suicidal and had a gun, the police stated.
Parker’s girlfriend Michele Louthan was upstairs in their home and didn’t know Parker had called the police until after he was shot, WHNT reported.
Three police officers responded to the scene and they spoke to Parker.
The Huntsville Police Department said that Parker refused several commands to Parker for him to drop his gun.
Then Officer Darby fired one shot at Parker which killed him, the police said.
Officer Darby was arrested after the indictment and is out of jail on bond. The trial is scheduled to start Oct. 29, according to WHNT.
The police chief and mayor stand behind Officer Darby’s actions.
"His training, through the Huntsville Police Department, allowed him and his fellow officers to survive as he rushed bravely, without hesitation, into one of the most volatile and unpredictable situations a police officer may ever encounter," Huntsville Police Department Chief Mark McMurray said, according to WHNT. "He is by no means a murderer."
Chief McMurray made further comments in a press release.
“Had Officer Darby not acted decisively, we could have been here today to add yet another officer’s name to the memorial wall,” Chief McMurray said. “Officer Darby will continue to have the full support of the Huntsville Police Department as he awaits his day in court, where the totality of the circumstances surrounding his actions will be presented to a jury.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle also released a statement in support of Officer Darby.
"Our hearts and sympathies are with the Parker family as they are forced to relive this time of loss. And to Officer Darby, you have our full support. As a valued and responsible member of our force, he acted in accordance with his training. Please accord him the same presumption of innocence as all Americans are entitled," the mayor said.