Judge denies immunity plea for Alabama cop who shoved past fellow officers, killed suicidal man – William Darby is charged with murder in fatal shooting of Jeffrey Parker, despite being cleared by police review board
Madison County Court judge Donna Pate today denied an immunity request from William “Ben” Darby, a Huntsville, Alabama police officer charged with murder of an armed suicidal man
At the immunity hearing former Huntsville cops testified against fellow officer Darby who fatally shot a suicidal man when they had the situation under control
William ‘Ben’ Darby 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker, despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a police review board
The two former Huntsville, Alabama cops testified this week that they were calming an armed, suicidal Parker when another officer shoved past them and killed him on April 3, 2018
Genisha Pegues and Justin Beckles addressed the court Wednesday during an immunity trial for William Darby, who’s charged with murder in the death of Jeffrey Parker
Jeffrey Parker had called police claiming he would kill himself – Video of the shooting shows Darby fatally shooting Parker within seconds of arriving at the scene
When Darby arrived, Officer Genisha Pegues was standing in the front room of the house attempting to calm Parker, officer Beckles stood in the doorway – “I did not feel threatened,” Pegues said under oath, Wednesday
Darby testified that he pushed past his senior officers because they weren’t controlling the situation
At the Madison County Court Darby argued that he was defending himself and other officers as he asked Judge Pate to grant immunity
A ruling of immunity would have prevented the district attorney’s office from taking the case to trial and Darby’s murder charge would have been dismissed
A judge has denied an immunity request from William “Ben” Darby, a Huntsville police officer charged with murder of an armed suicidal man.
After hearing testimony from seven witnesses — including Darby — on Wednesday, Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate issued a written order this morning.
“Upon consideration of the evidence presented and applicable law, it is ORDERED that defendant’s motion for immunity be and the same hereby is DENIED,” Pate wrote in the order. “… further proceedings herein are STAYED so that defendant may pursue his appellate remedies,” Al.com reports.
At the immunity hearings in the police involved shooting, two former Huntsville, Alabama, police officers testified this week that they were calming an armed, suicidal man when another officer shoved past them and killed him.
Officer Genisha Pegues testified that she was de-escalating a situation with the armed suicidal man until Officer William “Ben” Darby showed up and fatally shot the man.
Officers Pegues and Justin Beckles addressed the court Wednesday during an immunity trial for William Darby, who’s charged with murder in the 2018 death of 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker.
Parker called authorities, saying he was armed and suicidal. Video of the shooting shows Darby fatally shooting Parker within seconds of arriving at the scene.
Darby testified that he pushed past his senior officers because they weren’t controlling the situation. He was indicted despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a police review board. The charges efectively would be dismissed if the judge grants immunity plea, forcing the prosecutor’s office to drop the charges.
When Darby arrived, Officer Genisha Pegues was standing in the front room of the house attempting to calm 49 year old Jeffrey Parker, who had called police claiming he would kill himself. Another officer stood in the doorway.
“I did not feel threatened,” Pegues said under oath today.
Pegues was among seven witnesses who testified at the immunity hearing in the murder case of Darby, her fellow officer. Darby was indicted on a murder charge in the April 3, 2018 fatal shooting of Parker
At today’s hearing, Darby argued that he was defending himself and other officers as he asked Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate to grant immunity.
Immunity would prevent the district attorney’s office from taking the case to trial and Darby’s murder charge would be dismissed.
Parker called police that afternoon — one year ago today — saying he was armed and planned to “blow his brains out,” according to court testimony. Parker said in the call that the front door was unlocked at his Deramus Avenue home in west Huntsville, testimony revealed
Darby testified that Parker was sitting on a couch with a gun to his own head. Darby testified that he told Parker to drop the gun three times, but Parker didn’t comply. Darby told the judge that he fatally shot Parker after Parker shrugged his shoulders, causing the gun to move slightly.
Pegues and another officer testified they never saw the Parker’s gun move.
Jeffrey Parker, shown [left], with fiancee Michele Louthan, was fatally shot by a Huntsville police officer William Louis Darby during a mental health call to his house on April 3, 2018
Body camera footage of the shooting is dark and didn’t appear to clearly show whether Parker moved the gun.
Huntsville police Investigator Josh Vogel, who led the criminal investigation into Parker’s death, testified that authorities later determined the weapon Parker had was a flare gun. But, Vogel testified, the weapon had been altered to look like a real revolver and altered so that it would fire buckshot.
Pegues and officer Justin Beckles were the first cops on the scene. Darby arrived later and killed Parker about a minute after his arrival on Deramus Avenue, according to testimony and body camera video that was shown in court.
Judge denies immunity for officer William Darby
Darby’s body camera video showed him grab his shotgun from his patrol car and sprint to Parker’s home a couple of houses down the street. Beckles was standing at the front door of the home while Pegues was inside the home. Darby was standing behind Beckles, outside the home. From outside the home, Darby said he couldn’t see Parker, who was sitting inside the front room on a couch and pointing a gun at his own head.
Pegues could be heard on body camera video talking to Parker in a way that prosecutors characterized as de-escalating the situation. When Pegues entered the home and saw Parker with the gun to his head, she asked why he wanted to kill himself, according to the video footage. Pegues described having a calm conversation with Parker, noting that he told her his dog wouldn’t harm her and that he didn’t want to hurt her.
Pegues testified that she believed she was de-escalating the situation with Parker — until Darby pushed past her and Beckles to take over the situation.
Darby testified that he took over because Pegues was “failing to control the situation” and not “protecting herself.”
When Darby first walked up to the home, he shouted at Pegues to “Point your f—ing gun at him,” video footage revealed. Within about 20 seconds, Darby pushed past Beckles and Pegues—both his senior officers—and entered the front room of the home. Darby himself told Parker to drop the gun and within 11 seconds of entering the home, Darby shot him in the face.
The judge’s decision and preceding indictment is in sharp contrast to the Huntsville Police Department’s review of the case which found that Darby acted within department policy in the shooting.
About two months after the shooting, Darby was cleared of wrongdoing by an internal police review board. Beckles and Pegues were sent for re-training on officer safety, according to testimony.
Two months after the shooting, rookie officer William Darby [photo], was cleared of wrongdoing by an internal police review board. The senior officer at the scene, Beckles and Pegues, who gave contrasting reports, were sent for re-training on officer safety
The Huntsville Police Department said at the time, “A review of the case to include all video footage, physical evidence, and officer’s testimony was presented. The Incident Review Board found that all officers involved performed within Huntsville Police Policies, Procedures and Training.”
At the time of the shooting, Beckles and Pegues had about 10 years of combined police experience, compared to Darby’s 18 months on the job.
Beckles and Darby testified that Pegues had put herself in danger at the scene because she was standing in front of Parker, who had a gun to his own head.
Beckles, like Pegues, testified that he never saw Parker move his gun.
Beckles doesn’t work for Huntsville police today. He’s now a police officer for the Department of Defense.
Pegues is no longer working patrol for HPD; instead she’s a school resource officer.
Others who testified today include three law enforcement training experts. They talked about the time it takes officers to respond to aggression by armed suspects versus the amount of time it takes for a suspect to act.
In August, about three months after the police department review board cleared Darby, the district attorney’s office took the case to a grand jury for consideration of indictment. The grand jury voted to indict Darby on a murder charge.