Darryl Vance Parker
Reported by Courthouse News Service, Erik de la Garza
LITTLE ROCK (CN) – Arkansas Game and Fish officers killed a unarmed man by shooting him in the back, on the unfounded suspicion that he was hunting at night, his family claims in court.
The family of the late Darryl Vance Parker, 50, sued Arkansas Game and Fish Law Enforcement Officers Michael Neal and Ryan Hollowell, and Arkansas State Police Trooper Jason Martin, in Federal Court. The family claims that state trooper Martin was riding along “for fun” during a Game and Fish “saturation” patrol involving 20 to 30 officers and a helicopter. The family acknowledges that Parker did not stop his vehicle for the officers, but only because he did not know what the officers “were doing or attempting to do.”
“The defendants allege they attempted to stop Parker for night hunting, a crime Parker clearly was not committing or about to commit, because after Parker was maliciously shot by the defendants, it was determined by the defendants that Parker did not possess either a gun or a light,” according to the complaint.
The defendants killed Parker around 10 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2012, during “some type of saturation to snare people from or around Phillips County, Arkansas, committing violations of the Arkansas Game and Fish regulations,” the complaint states. “In fact, one of the officers was in a helicopter. It is believed and alleged that there were around 20 to 30 Arkansas Game and Fish officers involved in this saturation.”
The family claims that the defendants tried to “unlawfully stop, detain and arrest Parker without justifiable facts to make a stop, reasonable suspicion or probable cause.” Parker had been a lifelong resident of Phillips County.
The complaint states: “Parker, unarmed and having committed no crime known to the defendants, and not knowing what the officers were doing or attempting to do, did not stop for the defendants. The defendants allege they attempted to stop Parker for night hunting, a crime Parker clearly was not committing or about to commit, because after Parker was maliciously shot by the defendants, it was determined by the defendants that Parker did not possess either a gun or a light. Parker was violating no law known to the defendants.
“The defendants caught up to Parker in a nearby field. Parker had temporarily stopped his vehicle after hitting a culvert. At this time, for some unknown reason, Martin, who was not a Game and Fish officer, but instead was only riding along with the Game and Fish officers for fun, exited the vehicle he was in with the Game and Fish officer, and while Parker’s vehicle was now moving away from the defendants, Martin attacked Parker and the vehicle he was operating. Martin began beating on the vehicle glass with a flash light and then with his fist until he broke the vehicle window, at which time he then grabbed Parker.
“Martin, while Parker was still moving away from the defendants, apparently accidentally slipped or lost hold of the vehicle and/or Parker and fell to the ground. Parker continued to drive his vehicle away from the defendants.
“Despite the facts that the defendants had a helicopter surveying Parker, and had 20 to 30 officers in the area, while Parker, who was unarmed, and who was driving his vehicle away from the defendants, Neal and Hollowell, who were not in danger at the time, rather than letting Parker drive away and de-escalating the force the defendants had initiated, began firing multiple shots at Parker and the rear of his vehicle. One of the shots struck Parker in the back of his neck and exited his face, resulting in his death.”
The family claims the entire fiasco was unjustified, that “the defendants were emotionally amped up in anticipation of the planned saturation and attempted to stop Parker without justifiable facts, reasonable suspicion or probable cause.”
They claim the defendants have a history of improper use of force and “attempted to cover up what actually happened and continue to attempt to cover up what actually happened the night Parker was killed by defendants.”
Parker’s estate seeks damages for civil rights violations and wrongful death. He is survived by a minor daughter, his parents and siblings.