Huntsville, AL - A Huntsville police officer was indicted for murder on Friday after his department cleared him for shooting an armed suspect.
The indictment stems from an April 3 shooting after 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker called police and told them he was armed and suicidal, according to AL.com.
Officers responded and tried talking to Parker as he confronted them while holding his gun.
The officers ordered Parker to drop his weapon, and he refused. Officer Darby then shot him.
One month after the shooting, the police department announced that Officer Darby was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting.
Chief Mark McMurray told the media that the shooting was in accordance with his training. Officers do not have to wait for an armed person to point a weapon at them or shoot before using deadly force.
"Officer Darby was called upon to make split second decisions in a nightmare scenario, the likes of which most people will never experience. His training allowed him and his fellow officer to survive as he rushed bravely, without hesitation, into one of the most volatile and unpredictable situations a police officer is called upon to face," Chief McMurray said.
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.
The reasoning behind the indictment is not clear, but statements from the prosecutor and family attorney suggest that they believe that mentally ill people cannot pose a deadly threat.
According to AL.com, Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard told reporters that he was "gravely concerned" after seeing the details of the shooting, which caused them to believe it may not be justified.
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."