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Supreme Court rebuffs Alabama officer charged with murder

August 9, 2019

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court refused Friday to intervene on behalf of a Huntsville police officer charged with murder in a 2018 shooting, sending the case back to circuit court for a potential trial.

The justices turned away an appeal by officer William “Ben” Darby in a brief ruling without explanation.

Darby was on duty when he shot and killed Jeffrey Parker, 49, on April 3, 2018. Darby contended he was acting in self-defense and shouldn’t be prosecuted, but the court refused to overturn a lower court’s refusal.

The decision means the case against Darby can continue in Madison County.

Parker called authorities threatening to kill himself with a gun, police said. Darby was one of three officers who responded and shot Parker when the man wouldn’t drop his weapon, authorities said.

An internal police review board cleared Darby of wrongdoing, but grand jurors later indicted him.

During a hearing on Darby’s claim of immunity, Darby testified he fired his weapon after Parker refused his commands to lower a gun from his own head. The defense argued Darby’s actions were to protect a fellow officer, Genisha Pegues, who was talking to Parker.

But Pegues testified she did not feel threatened by Parker. Pegues testified she believed she was calming the situation with Parker until Darby pushed past her and another officer to take over the situation.

Body camera video showed Darby shot Parker within seconds of entering the man’s house.

Police and city officials in Huntsville have defended Darby, and City Council members have agreed to spend as much as $125,000 to pay for his defense on the murder charge.

Darby remains a police officer but is handling administrative duties rather than patrolling.

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