Alabama city said it paid $90,000 to defend police officer convicted of murder

Published 6:11 am Friday, May 21, 2021

The city said Thursday it has paid about $90,000 to defend a police officer convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of a suicidal man who was holding a gun to his own head three years ago.

News outlets reported that officials confirmed the payment amid continuing questions about the city’s handling of the case against officer William Darby, 28, who was convicted May 7 in the killing of Jeffrey Parker.

Darby remains a police officer, but the city said it is beginning a disciplinary process that could result in his firing. Initially placed on paid leave following the conviction, a statement by the city said Darby was now off on accrued leave with pay.

A personnel hearing set for May 24 was delayed, the statement said, but no new date was set. Darby is free on bond.

Activists have called for the resignations of Mayor Tommy Battle and the police chief since they criticized a jury’s decision convicting Darby in the shooting of Parker. A city board cleared Darby of wrongdoing, a decision that allowed him to remain with the force, but a county grand jury later indicted him on the murder charge.

City officials agreed to spend as much as $125,000 on Darby’s defense, and it was unclear whether taxpayers who’ve already paid $89,132 to assist will have to pay more.

Evidence showed that two officers responded to Parker’s home after he called 911 saying he was suicidal and had a gun. 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.

Jurors rejected defense claims that the killing was justified.