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.

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Filed Under: alabama, huntsville, jeff parker, mark mcmurray, murder, police, tommy battle, william darby


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Sep 2021 @ 5:09pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    AnonOps, 10 Sep 2021 @ 5:18pm

    Play stupid games...win 25 years in sentencing for taking another human beings' life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2021 @ 6:18pm

    This will be overturned.

    It's not up to the police to exist at the whim of a suicidal person with nothing to lose and a gun.

    The cop gave four warnings to drop the gun and the person didn't.

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Sep 2021 @ 6:35pm

    "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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2021 @ 6:53pm

    At least they didn't shoot the dog when it charged.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 10 Sep 2021 @ 9:39pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2021 @ 10:37pm

    Re: A Pail of Cold Water

    Newsflash: Chauvin killed no one. As was proved in court.*

    Must be why he got 22.5 years in jail. He was found guilty restless. That means he did kill Floyd and that is what got proved in court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2021 @ 10:40pm

    Well since I'm a constantly negative person, this just goes to show that an officer being convicted of murder accomplishes nothing in the way of systemic change. The good cop leaves town, The shitbag Chief and mayor take bo responsibility. And I won't take a victory lap until every last appeal is exhausted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 10 Sep 2021 @ 11:24pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 12:43am

    Re: A Pail of Cold Water

    Chauvin killed no one. As was proved in court.

    [Hallucinates facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 4:36am

    Well at least Darby found a way to end the ongoing problem. Now he gets to sleep with Bubba and Leroy for a few years. I hear he's gonna play Wide Receiver on the team!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Sam, 11 Sep 2021 @ 4:48am

    White cops

    It will never fail, white cops who KNOW they can do whatever they want and NEVER be held accountable unless someone actually says something who can do something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 6:28am

    Re:

    As I understand it, this site prefers to avoid such humor?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Sam’s Dad, 11 Sep 2021 @ 7:00am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 7:36am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 7:38am

    Not as a hard rule, but several regular commenters (including myself) do take issue with someone who uses the sexual assault of others as a foundation for a joke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Ed (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 8:26am

    The best outcome...

    ...would be for Darby to die in prison. Hopefully by violent actions. Sic Semper Tyrannis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Cowardly Lion, 11 Sep 2021 @ 8:54am

    Re: A Pail of Cold Water

    I have got a hot tip: don't walk around with a loaded gun if you don't want to get shot.

    You're not keen on the 2nd amendment?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    DebbyS (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 9:39am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 9:51am

    “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)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    iSights (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Why bother with evidence when you've already decided?

    The sad part (ANOTHER sad part) is the example now set for other, potentially good cops. Do I speak up... or do I lose my job?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: BAD cops

    BUT...he was bald.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 1:43pm

    Re: A Pail of Cold Water

    I'm grateful you will never serve on a jury.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2021 @ 4:36pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 6:04pm

    Re:

    Wipe the copcum off your face, bro, nobody needs to see that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 10:05pm

    Re: White cops

    As far as I'm concerned there is one color of cop and that is blue.

    But NWA did bring up a good point:

    But don't let it be a black and a white one
    'Cause they'll slam ya down to the street top
    Black police showin' out for the white cop

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 10:12pm

    Re: The best outcome...

    I really want to say they should throw him in solitary confinement for the entire sentence. But I suppose that I should remain somewhat consistent in my belief that prisoners shouldn't be subject to that kind of psychological torture. He'll suffer plenty no matter where he ends up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2021 @ 10:59pm

    Re: A Pail of Cold Water

    Aren't you a good little jackboot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2021 @ 10:58pm

    Re:

    The cop didn't have to shoot either. I don't think it will be overturned. The face of policing in America is changing.

    For the better I think.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Sep 2021 @ 12:18am

    '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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Someoneinnorthms, 13 Sep 2021 @ 2:10am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2021 @ 8:08am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    Denslayer (profile), 13 Sep 2021 @ 8:10am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    nasch (profile), 13 Sep 2021 @ 9:16am

    Re: The best outcome...

    Hopefully by violent actions.

    Getting murdered by fellow prisoners is not supposed to be part of the sentence. If he is deserving of death, he should be sentenced to death by the justice system*, otherwise that isn't really a justice system.

    • not something I'm in favor of btw

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    AC, 13 Sep 2021 @ 10:58am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2021 @ 4:43am

    Re: Re:

    US cops do handle mental health cases, sadly the same way they handle most other cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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