Home News Juror in HPD Officer William Darby’s homicide trial offers firsthand account of the case, the proof, and the response
News - May 13, 2021

Juror in HPD Officer William Darby’s homicide trial offers firsthand account of the case, the proof, and the response

A Madison County jury Friday convicted Huntsville Police Division Officer William “Ben” Darby of homicide.

The jury deliberated for about 4 hours on Thursday and two extra hours Friday earlier than saying its verdict.

That verdict drew swift criticism from the protection, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Huntsville Police Division Chief Mark McMurray.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, left, and Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray

This week, an individual who mentioned they served on the jury reached out to Information 19, expressing concern in regards to the officers’ feedback. The juror mentioned every member of the jury got here into the method with no anti-police bias, noting that one other juror spoke up throughout jury choice saying that he needed to serve to make sure police received a good shake.

The juror who contacted Information 19 wrote up some ideas in regards to the case, the proof and the strategy taken by the jury. There have been additionally considerations expressed that the jury’s function – pressed upon them by a jury choice course of that isn’t voluntary – was being unfairly criticized. These ideas, together with some criticism of the protection and Ben Darby, had been posted to Reddit anonymously Tuesday.

The juror additionally supplied to let Information 19 publish their ideas on the case however declined a possibility to do a TV interview.

The Madison County District Lawyer’s Workplace had argued in courtroom there was no justification for Darby taking pictures Jeffery Parker at Parker’s house in Huntsville in 2018. Parker had known as 911 telling a dispatcher he deliberate to shoot himself.

Jeffery Parker

Following the decision, Huntsville Police Division Chief Mark McMurray mentioned he was shocked by the decision and mentioned he didn’t consider Darby is a assassin. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle mentioned he disagreed with the jury and pointed to Darby’s proper to enchantment.

The town of Huntsville, at Battle’s urging, agreed in early 2019 to pay as much as $125,000 to help Darby’s protection. The town mentioned this week Darby is now on paid go away, pending a so-far-unscheduled disciplinary listening to.

The juror’s assertion is beneath.

“I used to be on the jury within the case for the homicide of Mr. Parker. I need to clear the air on some issues that I’m studying and listening to in regards to the responsible verdict. I really feel that is much more mandatory after seeing the inexplicable responses of our mayor and police chief. I’m penning this all explicitly from my reminiscence of the courtroom proceedings and proof. I’ve considered the movies a number of instances and paid shut consideration to the entire witness testimony and proof supplied.

“There are literally three full bodycam movies. Officer Pegues, Officer Beckles, and Officer Darby. We listened to the 911 name and to the entire radio chatter. One thing attention-grabbing that was delivered to our consideration later was that over a minute of the police radio recording had been deleted by the police division that was time stamped immediately across the time of the taking pictures.

“Pegues and Beckles responded to the home first after the decision over the radio for a suicidal particular person. They responded appropriately and had been speaking with Mr. Parker. They had been by no means afraid or in any instant hazard (at their very own admission on the witness stand, and apparent from the footage). Mr. Parker was calm your complete time and he by no means as soon as moved from his place on his sofa. He had one foot up on the espresso desk, carrying crocs whereas leaning again with the gun pointed at his personal head whereas resting the arm at his aspect. He was by no means aggressive, by no means cursed and even supplied to boost his voice. He answered the questions Pegues was asking of him in a peaceful and picked up method. She came upon that there was one other individual in the home upstairs sleeping, his fiance. She requested ‘why do you need to kill your self man?’ Parker says one thing softly that we can’t hear and Pegues questions ‘strung out on medicine?

“Someday shortly thereafter, Darby determined to reply to this name. He was not particularly despatched to this name. He was imagined to be returning to the police division to show in his bodycam footage as a consequence of a grievance in opposition to him or one other officer. Darby arrived on the scene, visibly aggravated. He struggled to get his shotgun out of the rack in his automotive whereas cursing. As soon as he received it out he promptly took the buckshot out of the chamber and loaded a single slug. He sprinted to the home, and instantly yelled at Pegues to ‘level your F***ING gun at him!’ Remember, he couldn’t see inside by his personal admission (and as seen on video) and he didn’t trouble to ask the opposite two officers what the scenario was. Pegues tried to inform Darby ‘he’s proper right here in entrance of me’ however Darby insisted ‘he might shoot you!’ You possibly can clearly hear Mr. Parker within the background saying ‘I’m not going to harm you.

“Darby turns to the left of the home, as if for a second he thought of what he was going to do. Then he pushed previous Beckles and compelled Pegues to regulate her place additional into the home (beforehand, Pegues was solely midway within the doorway). Since Darby and the others had been in such ‘imminent hazard,’ he stops and removes a hand from his gun for a second to place his sun shades as much as his brow. Then he shouts his instructions at Mr. Parker: ‘Put the gun down…put the gun down, I’m not going to let you know once more!’ In the meantime, Pegues is begging and pleading with Mr. Parker, ‘Please, PLEASE I don’t need something dangerous to occur to you.’ Then Darby shoots. Mr. Parker by no means a lot as flinched. Parker was doomed as quickly as Darby entered the home. Darby put himself into this ‘harmful’ place. We counted the time on the timestamps, Darby solely gave Mr. Parker 8 seconds from the time he eliminated his sun shades till the time he killed him.

“They had been adamant about speaking about how this was a really effectively skilled officer and he adopted the right insurance policies and procedures. Proper after Darby shoots, he turns to the fitting as if he’s going to stroll out the entrance door together with his gun down. Then, he walks over to the lifeless physique of the sufferer and places handcuffs on him. He proceeds to slowly stroll round the home together with his gun pointed down, whereas Pegues and Beckles dealt with the fiance that made her means downstairs after listening to the gunshot (keep in mind, they declare these different officers aren’t doing the fitting factor and aren’t skilled effectively). Pegues checked the fiance for weapons along with her gun skilled on her earlier than main her out of the home. You don’t need to hear the screams and pleas from this poor lady after seeing her fiance’s face half blown off by a shotgun. After this occasion, it’s fairly noticeable that no one will look Darby within the eyes.

“We see Darby exit the home and Beckles asks for his shotgun. Darby obliges and wanders over to his automotive, underneath supervision of different officers. He’s requested by numerous officers if the gun ever moved or was pointed at them, or if Parker was ever aggressive. He begins talking to fellow officer J (title eliminated) that appears to be a pal of his. Darby warns that his ‘stuff is on’ (speaking about his bodycam). J asks if he’s feeling okay, and Darby says he’s simply superb. In actual fact, he even has the thoughts to make just a few jokes whereas speaking with officers. He’s very involved about his sidearm being taken away in addition to his car, seemingly extra involved about this than the person he simply shot. Darby asks J if he can maintain one thing for him from his trunk, however he wants it again ‘by the tip of TODAY.’ J obliges, and we see Darby cowl up his bodycam together with his hand whereas eradicating one thing from his car to present to J. Shortly after this the LT comes over and says ‘don’t take away something out of your automotive.’ Darby by no means mentions taking something out, and we by no means discover out what it was that he was hiding. We see him digging by two different luggage from his trunk and eradicating pistols. He by no means as soon as reveals any indicators of misery for what simply occurred.

“Later, we see a video of Detective Vogel interviewing Darby three days after the incident. Darby is as cool as may be, displaying no seen regret for what has occurred. Vogel asks him to clarify the incident, and Darby recounts every part with a picturesque reminiscence. How might this be? Darby mentions not less than 3 times that ‘if he sees the video once more’ he might elaborate additional on sure particulars. They don’t seem to be allowed to be proven any video till investigations are over with (by HPDs personal admittance). Who confirmed him the video? The HPD witnesses known as to the stand by the protection mentioned they hadn’t accessed it, however that there are entry data stored. The prosecutors identified that after they requested for these data, that they had been deleted. Darby then says on the witness stand that he had by no means seen the movies previous to the investigation, though he says it fairly clearly in his interview.

“Keep in mind again after I talked about Darby needed to take away his sun shades when he entered the home? Within the interview with Vogel, he describes this as ‘model factors.’ These had been his actual phrases. He was requested if one thing might have been finished in another way. Darby mentioned he ‘wished he might have simply slammed Mr. Parker by the desk’ as an alternative, then Parker might ‘go get married and reside his life, or no matter.’ Please recall that I’ve watched these movies a number of instances, together with throughout deliberation. Keep in mind that this was recognized to be a name for somebody saying they’ll commit suicide. Slamming them by the desk sounds cheap and is a traditional coverage or process for a suicide name?

“Vogel concludes the interview by asking if the gun ever shifted from Mr. Parker’s head, or if he was ever aggressive in any means. We all know the reply to this already, however Darby confirms.

“The protection solely positioned themselves on one factor actually: coaching. He was skilled to react this manner. ‘Motion/response, the deadly funnel!’ They introduced in specialists (questionable at finest). A few of their witnesses had been thrown out for being, frankly, ridiculous. One witness they introduced in claimed to have met Mr. Parker when he was ‘on the lookout for a home close by.’ He mentioned he had met him round 10 instances. He was requested by the protection what Parker thought of police, and began to say one thing about ‘OH HE HATED POLICE!’ earlier than the choose intervened and jurors had been instructed to step out of the courtroom momentarily. After we returned this ‘witness’ was gone.

“The protection introduced a picture of a small tattoo on Mr. Parker’s chest (taken from the post-mortem photographs). They confirmed it to a gang specialist from HPD. It merely appears like some form of small Gaelic image. They are saying it accommodates a cranium and crossbones and declare it could possibly be a Nazi dying head image that could possibly be attributed to white supremacist teams. Why convey this up? Are we imagined to need to consider that Parker deserved to die? The officers couldn’t see the tiny tattoo, Parker had a shirt on and was on the opposite aspect of the room. Moreover, if he had been a harmful white supremacist, why didn’t he kill the primary two officers on the scene who had been each black?

“Later we study that the gun the sufferer was holding was not a gun in any respect, however a flare gun that had been modified to have pellets within the flare cartridge. The man didn’t even personal an actual gun, and so far as I do know didn’t actually have a felony document. I don’t suppose he was even breaking any legal guidelines. His post-mortem revealed that he had no medicine in his system apart from an antihistamine, and no markings in line with drug abuse.

“Why didn’t the primary two officers on the scene really feel the necessity to shoot Mr. Parker and neutralize this ‘harmful’ scenario? In any case, he was an ‘imminent and harmful risk’ to everybody. They had been speaking to Mr. Parker for over a minute, whereas it solely took Darby 8 seconds to determine to kill him with out understanding something in regards to the scenario.

“I don’t actually need to go into plenty of element on the jury deliberation to be respectful to my fellow jurors. I’ll say that we did a blind vote and had 11 vote responsible on Thursday, with one individual eager to sleep on it for additional evaluate on Friday. Inform me: are you able to go decide 12 random registered voters from the realm and get them to agree on one thing 100%, a lot much less one thing this anxious? This isn’t one thing we took frivolously. We checked out this from all angles and appropriately utilized it to the definitions of the legislation that we got by the choose. It was not some ‘liberal agenda’. No person was out to ‘stick it to the police’. The scenario was actually fairly clear ultimately when utilized to the legislation surrounding homicide and self protection for the state of Alabama. Legal guidelines apply to everybody. Legal guidelines should not the identical as ‘coaching, insurance policies and procedures’.

Does this sound like self-defense? That’s the argument the protection would love you to consider, in addition to the mayor and police chief apparently.

I’m sorry if that is rambling, however I actually wanted to get it off my chest as a result of this has not been simple. No person volunteered to be on this jury. I didn’t need to go there Monday morning and I actually didn’t anticipate it to be a case like this. I didn’t suppose I’d be chosen, however right here we’re at this time. I’m sickened by a few of the feedback I see that stem from ignorance or straight up malfeasance within the case of the mayor and police chief. I assume I can perceive in the event you disagree with the decision, however that’s an unintelligent and uninformed place except you will have the entire proof and have seen the entire movies your self. I don’t actually have any nice phrases of knowledge and I don’t intend to be some absolute supply of fact on this matter (that is all recounted from my reminiscence). As I mentioned at first, I simply need to clear the air.


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