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Day 3: defense testimony updates from Darby murder trial

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 7:22 AM CDT
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UPDATE (11:30am) - Huntsville Police Officer William Darby’s murder trial continued on Wednesday. The day started with the defense calling several witnesses to the stand.

The first was 911 operator Natalie Alvarez who, according to attorneys, answered Parker’s call on the night of his death.

The 911 call played for the jury, and in it, you can hear Parker tell the operator what he planned to do before hanging up. Alvarez testified she tried to call him back so that she could keep the person in crisis on the phone until help arrived. The 911 operator said this practice is standard protocol.

Next on the stand was the police dispatcher named Amanda Traulsen. She said the protocol for suicide or priority calls is to have two officers respond to the report.

“We usually send two but more go en route,” Traulsen said.

A man named David Fail also took the stand. Fail reported he had approximately ten conversations with Parker. When asked how Parker felt about police Fail started to answer but was interrupted by an objection.

The media zoom line went down briefly so it’s unclear how the judge ruled, but when it came back another witness was on the stand.

Dr. Pete Blaire, a professor of Criminal Justice and the Executive Director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, took the stand as an expert witness.

Dr. Blaire testified that he studied action and reaction, and monitored how fast someone has to react. He said if a police officer has a weapon out and sighted on the suspect but the suspect decides to shoot, there’s a good chance that the suspect will be able to. On cross-examination Dr. Blaire was asked if this meant an officer should always shoot a suspect if they have a gun, Dr. Blaire said no.

Assistant Police Chief for Snead Police Department Ron Kiker also testified. He said when you think about reaction time and how fast an officer can respond it’s made up of two components; response time and movement time. Kiker stated response is mental. An officer is evaluating what a subject is doing, and accessing what those actions mean to him. With self-defense, the officer then has the mental process to decide what he’s going to do about it and initiating movement then.

Kiker said they teach that the challenge our officers face on the street is that before their reaction time starts if they are responding to a subject’s action that subject has most of the time already done the movement part. Kiker said the bad guy is most of the time already doing his action and the officer’s reaction time is just starting.

When cross-examined if he felt this meant an officer should always shoot someone with a gun, Assistant Chief Kiker said it depends on each situation.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Prosecutors allege he’s a murderer, but his attorneys report he’s just an officer who acted in self-defense to not only protect himself but also fellow officers. Huntsville Police Officer William Darby’s murder trial continues Wednesday.

Darby is accused of killing Jeffrey Parker, a man police report was trying to commit suicide with a gun to his head.

Many details came out of the trial on Tuesday. Jurors sat through graphic body camera footage from multiple officers showing Parker’s last moments. They also listened to the 911 call where Jeffrey Parker told the dispatcher he was going to commit suicide.

During opening statements, the State attorneys stated two officers initially responded. They found Parker with a gun to his head, according to testimony. The prosecution said one of the officers was Genisha Pegues who tried to help Parker, but things escalated once Darby arrived.

The defense told a different story. Attorneys said Pegues wasn’t following protocol and put herself in harm’s way when she entered what they are calling the “fatal funnel.” The defense also said Darby was the first one on the scene to tell Parker to drop his gun, and he did so seven times. According to the defense team, Parker was simply protecting himself and other officers.

Pegues took the stand on Tuesday as well and said the situation only escalated only when Darby arrived on the scene. The State’s Medical Examiner and the lead investigator also testified.

Attorney Mark McDaniel, who is not on this case said he feels the verdict relies on video evidence.

”The main issue is going to be the video,” McDaniel said. “If Darby testifies how does he explain it? And what does the video show?”

Now it’s up to the defense. During opening statements, the defense referenced an expert that will talk about action-reaction time.

Check this story later today for more updates on day three.

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