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Attorney makes sense of the fight over records in HPD officer murder case

Controversy boils between the city and the court in the case of a Huntsville Police officer facing charges for murder.
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Controversy boils between the city and the court in the case of a Huntsville Police officer facing charges for murder.

WZDX News made sense of the latest developments in the fight over documents ahead of a hearing Friday. There’s still a gag order on the case so WZDX News spoke with a lawyer outside the case to break down everything that’s happened.

He says what’s being asked for is routine, but the way it’s being asked for is extremely unique.

After Huntsville Police Officer William Darby killed Jeffery Parker, who apparently had a gun and was suicidal, a review board decided Darby acted within policy. He was later indicted by a grand jury. It’s those records from the review board that are causing a tug-o-war now.

“The city’s argument seems to be that they’re not admissible,” explained Attorney Russell Crumbley. “But that doesn’t make a difference. He’s entitled to those statements, the defendant is.”

The City of Huntsville, which is paying for Darby’s defense, does not want to hand the review board’s records over to the court. Prosecutors want them and Crumbley says this discovery request, where each party gets evidence from the other, is normal.

City attorneys argue they shouldn’t have to turn over the records because Darby had to give the testimony or lose his job. Under a ruling, that testimony cannot be used against him.

“They can’t be used against me,” Crumbley uses the example of him being the defendant. “But whether they can be used against me is beside the point. As a defendant I’m entitled to all of those statements that are made. It is the prosecution’s obligation to provide me, the defendant, at my request, those documents. But they have to get those from the arresting agency.”

City attorneys say if the statements were to be used against Darby, officers would be reluctant to testify before incident review boards in the future.

Crumbley says it’s important to remember Darby does not have to prove he’s innocent. You’re innocent until proven guilty.

The judge will decide what happens with the records Friday morning. Darby’s trial is set for October 29.