Judge orders city to turn over evidence in Huntsville police officer’s murder case
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Madison County judge has ordered the city of Huntsville to turn over certain material in the high-profile case of police officer William Darby.
Darby is charged with murder following an April shooting on Deramus Avenue. Jeffery Parker, 49, a suicidal caller, lost his life.
Several motions were on the agenda in court on Friday morning. Darby was not present for the hearing, but his attorneys were there.
[READ MORE: Huntsville police officer indicted on murder charge]
The state says Darby’s recorded statement to the incident review board is relevant evidence and must be turned over.
The defense said the statement is protected and that Darby was “stripped of his 5th Amendment rights and forced” to give multiple statements by his superiors following the shooting and they should not be able to be used against him in court.
Circuit Court Judge Donna Pate granted the motion to compel all statements from the incident review board other than Darby’s, including those of witnesses and members of the police training academy staff. She will issue a separate order to address his statement specifically.
The state said this is the first time a request for incident review board material from the city has been an issue. Prosecutors said they are not accusing anyone of withholding material, but they believe it is evidence and that they’re entitled to it.
Huntsville police were called at 4:30 p.m. on April 3 to the 6400 block of Deramus Avenue regarding a possible suicidal person.
Parker, who was also the caller, stated he had a gun. During a brief verbal exchange, and after several commands for Parker to drop the weapon, one shot was fired by one of the officers, striking Parker, and he died as a result, Huntsville police said in a press release after the incident.
There were three officers on the scene and all of them have been placed on administrative leave per departmental policy.
An incident review board was convened after the officer-involved shooting and the city revealed that the panel found that "all officers involved performed within Huntsville Police Policies, Procedures and Training."
Also in attendance were representatives from the Madison County district attorney's office, Huntsville City Legal, Huntsville Police Department training staff and members from the Huntsville Citizen Advisory Council.
A review of the case included all video footage, physical evidence and officer testimony.
The case was then presented to a Madison County grand jury who moved to indict Darby.
Body cam footage hasn’t been released to the media. There’s video from all three officers who were on the scene.
When it comes to incident review boards, Chief Mark McMurray sets up the panels, and they are made up of captains.
The board is always set up at the discretion of the chief of police per policy and he believes the captains are best suited to determine findings and ruling because they are charged with policy decisions every day. They also develop new proposals for the department related to changes.
According to the city, the board members change every time a panel meets to review an incident.
Darby has been employed by the Huntsville Police Department for two years. His gun and badge and police credentials were taken, but he is still an officer.
A gag order is in place, preventing the prosecution and defense from making any statements to the media.
Veteran Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel says if someone makes a statement or testifies and they’re not in custody and they’re not a suspect to a crime (which Darby wasn’t when he went before the review board) and they make that statement voluntarily, then generally that statement could be used against them.
“If a person is in custody or deprived of their freedom in a significant way and they are a suspect in a crime, then they first must be given their Miranda Rights before their statement can be given. However, if a person comes in and they’re not a suspect and they’re not in custody or deprived of their freedom in a significant way, then that statement could be used against them,” McDaniel explained.
Darby’s trial is set to start October 29th.
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