Deliberations begin in murder trial of former Alabama cop

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, May 6, 2021

A jury ended its first day of deliberations Thursday without a decision in the trial of an Alabama police officer charged with murder for fatally shooting a suicidal man who was holding a gun to his own head three years ago.

The jury went home at 5:30 p.m., WHNT-TV reported. Deliberations were set to resume at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Prosecutors argued Huntsville Officer William Darby, 27, had no reason to kill Jeffrey Parker while responding to a call after the 43-year-old man phoned 911 saying he was armed and planned to kill himself. A one-time colleague, Genisha Pegues, testified that while Parker was upset, he was talking to her and posed no immediate threat.

But the defense argued that Darby feared for his life and fired in defense of himself and two other officers who were on the scene.

While Madison County prosecutors asked jurors to convict Darby of murder during closing arguments, a city police review cleared him of wrongdoing after the April 2018 killing and officials allowed him to remain an officer, with Huntsville taxpayers helping fund his defense.

Jurors saw video of the shooting taken from police body cameras, and Darby testified that he feared seeing “one of my officers” get hurt and fired after Parker shrugged when ordered to put down the gun he was holding to his own head.

Pegues, who has since resigned, told jurors during testimony that Parker hadn’t pointed his weapon at officers and was communicating with her until Darby rushed through a front door past her and leveled a shotgun at the man.

Video showed Darby fired within seconds.