City and state governments have long been criticizing law enforcement for how they conduct themselves. From policies and the use of force to chasing down suspects, every aspect of police work has faced criticism.
Many have defunded police departments and pushed an anti-law enforcement agenda as the public sits and watches it all unfold, forming opinions on how officers do their jobs with minimal facts.
In Alabama, a former police officer was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a man who was suicidal. However, his department had already ruled that the shooting was justified.
The shooting in question happened on April 3, 2018. Jeffrey Parker had called 911 to tell them he had a gun and was suicidal. When the officers arrived at his home, he was on his sofa with a gun to his head.
The first officer inside was Huntsville Officer Genisha Pegues. Pegues was attempting to talk the man down. Then, officer William "Ben" Darby grabbed his shotgun and ran into the home.
According to bodycam footage, it was under a minute before Parker was shot and killed by Darby. WHNT said that the department's review board ruled that the shooting was justified.
Their ruling said, "all officers involved performed within Huntsville Police policies, procedures, and training." However, the District Attorney decided to bring the case to a grand jury who indicted Darby for murder.
The City Council and Mayor Tommy Battle supported Darby funding his defense to the tune of $125,000.
Due to COVID, the trial had multiple postponements. Unfortunately, it picked back up 13 days after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd.
It also did not help that Pegues testified against Darby. A litany of experts testified that Darby was within department guidelines and did not use excessive force.
However, after four days of trial and a two-hour deliberation, the jury found him guilty. The verdict shocked the department and the cities mayor. Defense attorney Robert Tuten will be appealing the verdict, a move Police Chief Mark McMurry and the mayor agree with.
“Officers are forced to make split-second decisions every day, and Officer Darby believed his life and the lives of other officers were in danger. Any situation that involves a loss of life is tragic. Our hearts go out to everyone involved.”