By Associated Press - Monday, May 3, 2021

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Jury selection began Monday in the trial of an Alabama police officer facing a murder charge in the shooting of a man who had called police and told them he was suicidal.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers representing Officer William Darby questioned potential jurors about their attitudes toward police and guns as the process began in Madison County Circuit Court, WHNT-TV reported. It wasn’t immediately clear when testimony could begin.

The district attorney’s office has said lawyers will pull from a jury pool of 60 people, WAAY-TV reported.

Darby was charged with shooting Jeffrey Parker at his home on April 3, 2018, after Parker called police. Darby was the third officer on the scene and fired while Parker held a gun to his own head, authorities have said.

Circuit Judge Donna Pate, in a ruling issued before jury selection, refused a defense request to bar prosecutors from referring to Parker as a “victim” in court. Such wording is consistent with state law, she said.

A Huntsville Police Department shooting review board found Darby had acted within department policy, but a grand jury indicted him.

The defense contends the killing was justified since Parker refused to drop his gun, and the city is helping fund Darby’s defense.

WAAY-TV reports that the district attorney’s office has said they will pull from a jury pool of 60 people.

While the city has refused to release video of the shooting to the public, body camera video shown in court during an earlier hearing showed Parker was sitting on a couch with a gun to his head while another officer, Genisha Pegues, tried to calm him and another officer stood nearby.

As he arrived, Darby shouted for Pegues to point her gun at Parker, reported. Darby then pushed past the other two officers, ordered Parker to drop his weapon, and shot Parker in the face seconds later.

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