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February trial set for Alabama officer accused of murder

November 24, 2020 GMT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A February trial date has been set for a Huntsville Police officer accused of shooting to death an armed man who told police he was suicidal.

Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate set Feb. 22 for the start of the murder trial involving Officer William Darby, who was indicted in the case following the April 2018 shooting, multiple news outlets reported. The date is two days and a year after the original trial date was scheduled. The case, like many in Alabama, has been delayed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darby, 27, is charged in the shooting death of Jeffrey Parker, 49, at Parker’s home. Parker had called police, telling them he was suicidal. Darby was the third officer on the scene and after Parker refused to drop the gun he held to his head, Darby shot him.

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A Huntsville Police Department shooting review board found Darby had acted within department policy, but a Madison County grand jury indicted him. District Attorney Rob Broussard said he was “gravely concerned” about Darby’s actions after seeing body camera video of the shooting.

Darby asked Pate to grant him immunity from prosecution but she declined and Alabama’s appellate courts upheld her ruling.

The City of Huntsville has agreed to pay up to $125,000 for Darby’s defense. Darby had been on the police force for about two years at the time of the shooting.

Pate’s order says a pre-trial conference is set for Jan. 22.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this year on behalf of Parker’s estate against Darby and the City of Huntsville accuses the city and Darby of excessive force.