City of Huntsville explains why officer convicted of murder is on paid leave

Your tax dollars are being used to pay the salary of Officer William Darby, who was convicted of murder on Friday.

Posted: May 12, 2021 5:43 PM
Updated: May 12, 2021 7:01 PM

Your tax dollars are being used to pay the salary of a convicted murder.

Right now, Officer William Darby is on paid administrative leave after being convicted of murder on Friday.

WAAY reached out to the Huntsville Police Department to speak to Chief Mark McMurray, who recommended Officer Darby be placed on administrative leave. However, we were told he wouldn't speak any further about the case or the process of putting an employee on paid leave.

That request was approved by the mayor, city administrator and city director of human resources. The city says this whole process is actually normal, but people in the area have some concerns.

"Convicted and done with. He should not be paid at all," Aletha Hampton said.

Many people are upset the city is still paying Officer Darby after being convicted of murder. However, not everyone agrees.

"I don't have a problem with it, but I think they should get it done as quickly as possible," Howard Ross said.

The city says it's working as fast as it can to resolve the issue. The city says Darby being placed on paid leave is part of the due process, which Darby and other city employees are entitled to. City officials say if he was deprived of pay before due process, it would be a form of discipline.

On Tuesday, the city issued a notice of a request for a formal disciplinary hearing. Darby will be on paid leave pending the results of that hearing. A hearing usually takes place no more than 30 days after an employee receives the notice.

The hearing will be closed to the public and any information about it will not be available until it is complete. The city says it's to preserve the integrity of the process.

Darby faces several actions including oral or written reprimand, probation, suspension, demotion or even termination. He's also facing at least 20 years of jail time for his criminal conviction. Something not everyone agrees to.

"I sure would hate for someone to throw me in jail for not doing my job right or doing my job wrong," Ross said. "It's a balancing act. On one hand, something was done wrong. Something needs to be addressed, but on the other hand, i don't think you should take a man and because he's trying to do the job, maybe he did it wrong, but i don't think he deliberately did it incorrectly."

"He thought he was doing right at the time. I don't think they go into a situation just trying to cause problem or saying 'Gee! I just want to kill somebody.' They try to save lives," Judy Garrett added.

However, some say officers need to be held at a higher standard.

"You're supposed to be protecting the people. You're supposed to be abiding by the law," Hampton said.

WAAY 31 also learned Judge Donna Pate re-issued the gag order on the case. It was re-issued after attorneys on both sides gave press conferences following Officer Darby's' conviction on Friday. It essentially silences anyone involved in the case like the attorneys and members of law enforcement. We reached out to the judge to see why she issued the gag order after the trial and if this order applies to the city council members and the mayor. We are still waiting to hear back.

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