HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – An Alabama police officer on Friday was charged with murder in the shooting death of an armed man who told police he was suicidal.
Huntsville Police Officer William Darby, 25, was indicted on murder charges for the April 3 shooting of 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker.
Darby was one of the three police officers who responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun. Police said that Darby shot Parker after commands to drop the firearm were not followed.
A police review board initially cleared Darby in the shooting, but Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard told news outlets that his office became concerned the shooting wasn't justified. The case was presented to a grand jury which returned the indictment.
"Upon reviewing the file, we had great concern about what occurred there in the house," Broussard told local news outlets in a press conference.
Broussard declined to discuss the specifics of what happened in the shooting.
"Usually what you are looking at is whether an officer reasonably feared for his life before he was forced to use deadly physical force. And on these particular facts of the case, we had concern that this was not a justified shooting," the prosecutor said.
Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray on Friday defended Darby's actions, saying he has the "full support" of the department.
"Officer Darby was called upon to make a split-second decision, a decision in a nightmare scenario the likes of which most people will never ever experience," McMurray said in a press conference. "He is by no means a murderer."
McMurray told news outlets that Darby has been relieved of duties and is working in an "administrative capacity" pending the trial. It's unclear from court records if Darby has obtained a lawyer.
There is body camera footage of the shooting from the three officers that responded to the scene, Broussard said. The video has not been released to the public. Grand jurors saw the body camera footage and video of interviews with the officers.
WHNT reported that it was Parker that called 911 the day of the shooting. Parker told the operator that he was suicidal and had a gun, the station reported.
Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews