Huntsville Police Officer William Darby has been indicted on murder charges in the shooting of Jeffrey Louis Parker on April 3, 2018.
A Madison County Grand Jury handed down the indictment on Thursday.
According to HPD, the incident happened when officers were dispatched to a possible suicidal person armed with a gun. When officers arrived, 49-year-old Jeffrey Louis Parker was in possession of a firearm and suicidal. After refusing multiple lawful commands to drop the weapon, Parker was fatally wounded by Officer Darby.
Officer Darby has been employed with HPD for two years. He was placed on administrative duties after the shooting and is paid administrative leave as of August 3 due to the indictment and arrest. He no longer has his gun, badge, or police credentials.
In a statement from Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray regarding Officer Darby’s arrest, the chief says, “Suicide and mental illness are a national epidemic. Huntsville is not immune from the consequences of these personal tragedies. As a country and a community, we are all struggling with these mental health issues. Our police department has been intensively training with Mental Health professionals on how best to respond in situations. We are currently working with organizations such as Wellstone, and the Mental Health Court. We have a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), which is highly trained to respond, and we are training each officer in the department on how to handle these situations. We are continuing to learn new and better ways to identify and help those struggling with depression and suicidal behaviors.”
Attorney Martin Weinberg said, “The Parker family was surprised but absolutely pleased that the grand jury issued an indictment. 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.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle released a statement saying, “
“Suicide is a tragedy and has become all too prevalent in our society. It impacts our friends and families, our workplace, and as we see today – our officers on the street.
Responding to a suicide call where the individual is armed with a gun is one of the most dangerous and complex scenarios for a police officer. It is the reason why Huntsville Police are investing heavily in mental health awareness and training.
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.”
Renata Di Gregorio was live at Friday’s news conference.