HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for August for an officer who remains employed by the Huntsville Police Department despite being convicted of murder in the on-duty killing of a mentally disturbed man.
Officer William Darby, 28, could receive a prison term ranging from 20 years to life for the slaying of Jeffrey Parker during a hearing set for Aug. 20 before Circuit Judge Donna Pate, news outlets reported. Demonstrators have protested the fact that he remains on the police force.
The hearing couldn’t be held earlier because attorneys involved in the case have scheduling conflicts, the judge said.
The city, which cleared Darby of wrongdoing before he was indicted and allowed him to remain an officer on desk duty while awaiting trial, said Darby remains an officer but is not working while on accrued leave. Immediately after the conviction, he was placed on paid leave while also free on $100,000 bond.
Evidence showed that two officers went to Parker’s home in 2018 after he called 911 saying he was suicidal and had a gun. The officers found Parker seated on a couch and holding a gun to his own head when they arrived.
One of the officers told jurors she was talking to Parker, who wasn’t acting in a threatening manner, when Darby entered the room, ordered Parker to drop his weapon and shot within seconds. Prosecutors argued that Darby had no justifiable reason to open fire.
Jurors rejected defense claims that the killing was justified.
While the city said it has begun personnel proceedings that could result in Darby’s termination, it also has paid nearly $90,000 toward his defense. Activists have called for the resignation of Mayor Tommy Battle and Police Chief Mark McMurray, who both publicly criticized jurors’ decision to convict Darby.