Martin Weinberg, the attorney representing Hobbs, told NBC News his client’s encounter with police is yet another example of the police department’s inability to safely work with people with mental illnesses. “We know there is a problem in Huntsville with excessive force and dealing with mentally ill individuals,” the attorney said, having represented families of those with mental illnesses in lawsuits against Huntsville police.
Huntsville police officer William Darby remained on the city’s payroll even after he was convicted of murdering 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker, who called police to say he planned to kill himself on April 3, 2018.
When two officers arrived to Parker’s home—one of them, officer Genisha Pegues—he was holding a gun to his head sitting on a couch, Pegues testified. She said she was trying to de-escalate the situation before Darby arrived but when he did, he yelled at Pegues to “point your f–king gun at him.” Darby then yelled repeatedly at Parker to drop his gun, and 11 seconds after the murderous cop walked inside the home with a shotgun, he shot Parker. Darby was initially put on paid administrative leave and after his conviction was subsequently allowed to use “accrued leave with pay, having availed himself to certain rights under federal law,” Huntsville police officials said in a news release.
“As a result, his formal hearing has been postponed and will be promptly rescheduled to a later date following a change in his leave status,” the police department said in the release. “These elements of the City’s personnel policies and procedures are mandated by federal law and uphold employee rights for which the City must abide.” The city admitted to paying $89,132 in legal fees for Darby, and the city council approved up to $125,000.
With regards to the case involving Hobbs, Weinberg admitted: “We don’t know enough at this point. We don’t know if they tried to de-escalate. … We don’t know the exact name of the officers (involved). We don’t know their history, in terms of complaints they had. … We don’t have a lot of faith they’re going to discipline this officer. We’re waiting to see.”
After the attorney’s interview, the Huntsville Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division determined through its investigation that the officer in question “was found to have acted outside of applicable HPD policy and did not adhere to the training provided by HPD.” “This action does not reflect the standards of our department,” the department said in a statement on Thursday. “The case has been referred to the Chief of Police for disciplinary review in accordance with the City of Huntsville Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual. This process will result in both addressing individual behavior and further solidifying the Department-wide standards for law enforcement conduct.”
The police department’s initial news release about the incident did little to address the officer’s behavior or even identify him, but authorities did identify Hobbs and accuse him of being “non compliant.” “After an officer arrived on the scene and made contact with the suspect, the individual was non-compliant. The officer called for backup,” authorities said in the release. “An altercation with police subsequently occurred resulting in the arrest of Kemontae Hobbs, 22, for resisting arrest and obstructing government operations.
“We have viewed citizen-provided video that partially captures the arrest process,” police officials added. “We understand concerns with use of force techniques used in the arrest and we take these concerns seriously. The full incident is under review including all actions taken by officers during the arrest process.”
Keith Young, the founder of Black Lives Matter Huntsville, told WAFF-TV Hobbs’ primary care provider quit, leaving him without access to medication. “His mom says this happens often. The cops have dealt with him plenty of times and it’s never gotten to this level,” Young said, adding that cops called Hayes from a non-emergency line. He said that is an indicator that officers did know who they were dealing with, “and you all still beat him like that, knowing he can’t defend himself.”
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