Jurors convicted Darby on Friday following two days of deliberations which left them ultimately unconvinced by his claim that Jeffrey Parker, who was suicidal and holding a gun to his own head, posed a threat to himself and the other officers at the scene.
“He was not justified in any way with what he did to Mr. Parker,” District Attorney Rob Broussard spoke of Darby’s fatal shooting of Parker, noting that he “had no business being a police officer."
While defending Huntsville police in general, Broussard said Darby’s actions were “off the charts.”
“He was not justified in any way with what he did to Mr. Parker,” he said. Darby “had no business being a police officer,” Broussard said.
A city police review cleared Darby of wrongdoing and officials allowed him to remain an officer, with Huntsville taxpayers helping fund his defense against charges brought by a Madison County grand jury.
Darby was taken into custody but was released from jail hours later after clearing a $100,000 bond.
The officer is expected to appeal the conviction, which carries a sentence of 20 years to life.
The guilty verdict left police “in the first stages of shock,” Chief Mark McMurray said in a statement.
“While we thank the jury for their service in this difficult case, I do not believe Officer Darby is a murderer,” he said. “Officers are forced to make split-second decisions every day, and Officer Darby believed his life and the lives of other officers were in danger. Any situation that involves a loss of life is tragic. Our hearts go out to everyone involved.”
Battle similarly declared he disagreed with the jury’s verdict and pointed to Darby’s legal option to appeal it.
“Fortunately, Officer Darby has the same appeal rights as any other citizen and is entitled to exercise those rights,” he concluded.
The victim’s family praised the jury and said they hope the city will move forward with implementing changes for how law enforcement officers deal with those who have mental health conditions.
During a news conference outside the courthouse, Bill Parker, the victim’s brother, said he hopes the city will improve how it responds to people who are suffering from mental illness, al.com reported.
Police officers initially showed up at the scene in 2018 after Parker called 911 and told them that he was armed and was contemplating suicide. There, Darby and the other officers found Parker holding a gun to his head; however, colleague Genisha Pegues said she was on the phone with Parker and testified that she did not think he posed any threat.