Cop Who Killed A Suicidal Man Less Than 11 Seconds After Entering His House Convicted Of Murder

from the officers-express-concern-over-disturbing-frequency-of-lightning-strikes dept

It’s rare enough to see a law enforcement officer convicted of murder. It’s even rarer to see it happen twice in one year.

In June, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. Chauvin placed his knee on the neck of the unarmed, unresisting Floyd for more than nine minutes — and for two minutes after another officer said he couldn’t detect a pulse. For this brutal act — one that prompted months of heated protests around the nation — Chauvin was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.

It has happened again. A Huntsville, Alabama police officer has been convicted on murder charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

William Ben Darby, the Huntsville police officer convicted of murder for shooting and killing Jeff Parker, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison.

[…]

A Madison County jury on May 7 found Darby guilty of murder for shooting and killing Parker, a 49-year-old man threatening suicide, three years ago.

Officer Darby was not the only officer to respond to the call about the suicidal man. He wasn’t even the first to arrive. Officer Genisha Pegues was already there, trying to de-escalate the situation. The suicidal Parker had already told Pegues he had no interest in hurting her. He was holding a gun, but it was pointed at his own head.

Darby arrived, and within 30 seconds had retrieved a shotgun from his cruiser and killed Parker by shooting him in the face. Darby’s entire interaction with the suicidal man consisted of him shouting four times for Parker to drop the gun and yelling at Officer Pegues to point her gun at Parker. All of this — Darby’s entry and his murder of Parker — took only eleven seconds.

In another rarity, one of the witnesses testifying against Darby was Officer Pegues, who had the situation at least partially under control before Officer Darby burst into the house and decided the only way to help the suicidal man was to kill him.

Pegues, testifying for the prosecution, told the jury that she never felt threatened by Parker and that she didn’t need Darby to save her life. She testified that Parker told her he didn’t want to hurt her.

Robert Tuten, Darby’s lead defense attorney, went after Pegues.

Tuten asked whether Pegues put herself and other officers in danger by standing in front of an armed man with her gun pointed down, rather than at Parker.

“Dangerous is the job,” Pegues, who was a police officer for six years, replied. She said tensions rose during the encounter when Darby arrived.

Pegues, who violated one of the many unwritten rules of policing by testifying against a fellow cop, has since left the Huntsville Police Department. She applied for a job with the FBI. She’s probably better off anywhere else. The PD’s internal investigation cleared Darby of wrongdoing. Obviously, the jury of his peers disagreed with PD’s assessment.

And she’s probably better off being out of Huntsville altogether. The PD tried to get Darby off the hook. So did the city itself, which decided it would spend taxpayer money defending the cop from criminal charges. The city council passed a resolution to pay up to $75,000 of Darby’s legal expenses. And it did this without viewing body cam footage of the shooting, despite the fact the city had access to the recordings.

Two powerful figures backed Darby throughout the case.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Police Chief Mark McMurray say Officer William Darby did nothing wrong and isn’t a murderer.

And continued to support the officer even after Darby was convicted.

Mayor Tommy Battle and Police Chief Mark McMurray even questioned the guilty verdict after the trial.

Once again, they’re at odds with a jury that decided the officer did do something wrong and handed down a conviction that says he’s a murderer.

And even after the conviction and sentencing, the city continued to support Darby, at least indirectly. The city refused to release footage of the shooting, despite these recordings being entered as evidence in a trial that had reached its conclusion. Journalists from several news outlets (led by AL.com) had to get a court order to obtain copies of the recordings.

AL.com has published the recordings. This is what the jury saw: a cop enter a house and decide — within 11 seconds — to kill someone who posed only a threat to himself. The jury also saw another cop already on the scene, one that felt this situation needed to be handled with care and concern, rather than with bullets and violence. Her decision was overridden by Officer Darby, who had had no interaction with the suicidal man other than shouting at him.

Officer Darby didn’t spend much time mulling things over before deciding to shoot a fellow human being in the face with a shotgun. He’ll have plenty of time to think about it now.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Cop Who Killed A Suicidal Man Less Than 11 Seconds After Entering His House Convicted Of Murder”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
36 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Why bother with evidence when you've already decided?

The city council passed a resolution to pay up to $75,000 of Darby’s legal expenses. And it did this without viewing body cam footage of the shooting, despite the fact the city had access to the recordings.

When you’ve already decided that cops are never wrong(well, unless they’re ‘not a team player’) then there’s no need to view any evidence since unless it aligns with that it’s just going to be dismissed immediately anyway. They decided that a cop couldn’t be a murderer and they were damned if they were going to decide otherwise, thankfully it looks like the jury wasn’t as corrupt.

That aside it’s nice to see a nearly mythical ‘good cop’ show up even if she’s now a former cop, something which is sadly not at all surprising given both the department and city were not only willing to give a pass to someone who was at best a cold-blooded killer but their active support and she had the audacity to disagree.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'How dare you threaten to kill yourself, that's the cops' job!'

Nice of you to make clear your belief that the proper response to a suicidal person is on the spot execution, I mean sure it makes you look all sorts of sociopathic and/or homicidal and shows you to be the sort of person I hope never holds any sort of real power as I wouldn’t trust you to so much as hand out parking tickets without doing something ahborent but at least you’re an honest horrible person and it’s always refreshing to see terrible people drop the pretense and just own it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

First off, which cop gave the warning? I doubt it was the pig with the shotgun.

Secondly, as some who WAS suicidal, I am relieved people like you are not in Singapore.

Lastly, while mental illness isn’t a get out of jail free card, cops DO handle mental health cases and should have protocol as to how to handle a suicidal case.

By your twisted logic I should have flung myself off a high building, preferably without informing anyone.

You fucking jackboot.

AC says:

Re: Re:

Mental illness is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

I agree, but probably not in the way you want. The officer is a disturbed individual, and he will NOT be getting out of jail.

The suicidal victim was also not well, but that’s hardly worthy of a death sentence, especially without a judge and jury making that determination. Fortunately for the (ex-)cop, he was afforded that right he so flippantly denied others.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

"Mayor Tommy Battle and Police Chief Mark McMurray even questioned the guilty verdict after the trial. "

Citizens should be very concerned that these 2 leaders who represent the concept of law & order in the town seem to think their beliefs trump the legal systems findings.

The city couldn’t even be bothered to look at the 11 seconds of video before pledging public funds to defend a murderer. It is one thing to question is the charges fit the crime, it is quite another to ignore all available evidence & make decisions based on not wanting to piss off the union.

One has to wonder is someone might want to take a peek at similar cases here, I mean the internal review found nothing wrong with a cop executing someone after 11 seconds of gathering "information", anyone have any doubt there are other findings that ignore reality?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

restless94110 (profile) says:

A Pail of Cold Water

Newsflash: Chauvin killed no one. As was proved in court. So that nonsense at the beginning of the article makes suspect this other cop. When the Chief of Police think he wasn’t guilty? We should go with that. Hindsight is always wrong. The lady cop thought she had the suicidal man with the gun under control? Is that the same as sending a social worker out?

I have got a hot tip: don’t walk around with a loaded gun if you don’t want to get shot. And here’s the obvious fact: the guy wanted to commit suicide by cop. He got his wish. The lady cop had to leave town as she should have left. She’s a terrible cop and should go back to waiting tables.

Meanwhile, just another step in destroying any form of law enforcement in the United States. What cop is going to do anything to any violent lunatic with a gun if it means he will suffer the insane hatred of cop haters (like those on Tech Dirt)?

Answer: few. Meaning kiss any law enforcement at all good bye. This is the weirdest experiment in social engineering of all times. Let’s just see how it goes, shall we? All the cops are in prison and all the criminals run free (Sympathy for the Devil –Rolling Stones).

Keep going with this lunacy. Hope you have a gun or two.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

What cop is going to do anything to any violent lunatic with a gun if it means he will suffer the insane hatred of cop haters[?]

The kind of cop trained to “do anything to any violent lunatic with a gun” by people who think cops should treat everyone on the street as a potential “enemy combatant” and the streets themselves as a war zone.

DebbyS (profile) says:

Re: Re: A Pail of Cold Water

"…don’t walk around with a loaded gun…" in your own home "…if you don’t want to get shot…" in your own home. There, added a few facts for ya… Also, "you" might not want to have a pet (with protective instincts), a spouse, children, or friends visiting, in case police enter the wrong dwelling and start shooting because they’re so afraid…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: A Pail of Cold Water

Oh I suspect they are when they or someone they agree with feels like going around armed, though who knows maybe they are in fact arguing that carrying a gun should warrant an immediate on-site execution, something that while homicidally deranged would certainly shut down the NRA and it’s members, along with the police and military real quick.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
BernardoVerda (profile) says:

Well, you know…
the Good Cop will be a lot harder to replace than the Bad Cop.

It’s not that there aren’t any good cops, it’s that they’re in a system where they have to manage as best they can, wherever they have any say in how things go down, quit (or be driven out) when that just gets too damn hard, or go bad themselves.

Let’s leave the unhelpfully simplistic, black and white characterizations to the bad cops — and they’ve got that down, already.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Sam’s Dad says:

Re: BAD cops

Sam (and everyone else for that matter), stop it with the racist trolling. Dude. WTF. Makes you no better than any other racist.

This attitude isn’t remotely insightful and your snark isn’t even original. Knock it off.

Not all bad cops are white and not all white cops are bad. You know it too. But you choose to post hate because what? Feels? Hate is hate and you just contributed. Good job adulting and being as bad as they are.

Be a better person and post something other than more hate; it’s not that hard.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

“Dangerous is the job,” Pegues, who was a police officer for six years, replied.

She’s got balls to say that in court.

Also too bad their aren’t more police like her (instead of hallucinating that their job is to be abusive sadists, or silent accomplices)

Someoneinnorthms says:

Re: Re:

This is so remarkable as to be almost unbelievable. I believe it, mind you. I am simpme incredulous that she said it. It’s obvious and jaw-dropping at the same time.

As noted above, this case will probably be overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court. They are jackbooted cop-lovers. It will NOT be overturned on insufficiency of evidence, though. I predict it will be overturned on some minor matter such as jury instructions. I suspect that they might find portions of Officer Pegues’ testimony irrelevant. "Defense of others" is a subjective defense. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether Office Pegues felt threatened; it only matters whether Darby perceived her as being threatened. I can see how the AL SC will find her testimony irrelevant and more unfairly prejudicial than probative and reverse the conviction. Disclaimer for all non-legal-nerds: sorry about this last paragraph. It gets deep into the legal minutiae and obscures the true meaning of this story: Darby is a piece of shit.

Denslayer says:

Murder

The shooting officer was hell bent on firing that gun. He stepped in front of two officers . I’m sure that’s against protocol . Also in that state
Just about every one has a gun. So I guess just holding a legal gun is grounds to get shot in the face . Even if the victim did attempt to lower the gun he still would have been shot by that trigger shoot cop if he did move the gun away from his head

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...