The WAAY 31 I-Team spent the past four days asking why a grand jury indicted a police officer for murder when his own peers said he did nothing wrong. Monday, a judge in the state’s case against Huntsville Police Officer William darby issued a gag order. That means no one involved can talk about it.
WAAY 31 talked to Bruce Gardner. He’s a former prosecutor who sat in on the police review board for several years.
"My experience once the review board convened we took no further action. We didn't indict anyone or anything like that," Gardner said.
Gardner told us he worked for the district attorney's office in the 1980's and he sat in on about a dozen review sessions.
"It's geared up to make a finding that the officer acted responsibly," he said. "It's kind of the fox is watching the hen house kind of thing. When you talk about law enforcement officers watching other law enforcement officers and what they get into. Legal or otherwise," he added.
Gardner admitted it's been awhile since he was in one of the board's sessions, but the premise remains the same. He can only question what’s on body camera video that shows officer William Darby kill Jeffrey Parker in April. The City won’t release it.
"There must be some extraordinary film footage that none of us have seen yet to see what this is all about," he said.
Monday, WAAY 31 requested Officer William Darby's personnel file from the City Attorney.
State law requires agencies make all public employees records open for review, but Huntsville’s Assistant City Attorney Eddie Blair refuses to release them. Blair denied our request to see Darby’s Internal Affairs review because it’s connected to a pending criminal matter. Then claimed Darby’s personnel file is “investigative in nature and those documents are not considered public record."
We asked Gardner if he thought the request was rightfully denied.
"I think it should be disclosed. Okay. I could make a compelling argument that some of that is public record. If an officer has been reprimanded and it may somehow relate to what's going on with the particular case. Whoever wants it will succeed to getting access to whatever it is. I think it should be available now. I don't know why they're hiding behind that," he added.
We've asked the City Assistant Attorney to explain what was investigative in nature and how it related to a criminal matter. We haven't heard back from him.
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