Alabama Officer Gets Civil Rights Retrial For Throwing Indian Man

Madison Police Department officer Eric Parker. Photo from Limestone County Sheriff's Office via Reuters

An Alabama police officer returned to federal court on Oct. 28 as a jury weighed for a second time whether he violated an Indian man's rights by throwing him to the ground and causing serious injuries in an incident recorded on video.

Eric Parker, a police officer in Madison, Alabama, is being retried on accusations that he used unreasonable force during the February incident.

A jury in Huntsville, Alabama, deadlocked last month on whether to convict or acquit Parker, 27, of a single charge of depriving an Indian grandfather of his civil rights, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.

Jurors began hearing testimony from witnesses on Oct. 28, according to local media reports.

The case centers around the officer's treatment of Sureshbhai Patel, then 57, who had recently come to the United States and spoke no English when he was stopped outside his son's home during a morning walk by police responding to a suspicious person call.

During the encounter, Parker abruptly flipped Patel onto the ground. Patel suffered extensive injuries from which he is not expected to fully recover, his lawyer has said.

The case drew international attention at a time of increased scrutiny on the use force by U.S. police officers, particularly against minorities.

Patel testified during the first trial and is expected to do so again, according to his attorney, Hank Sherrod.

Parker also took the stand during the initial trial. He told jurors that he was following his training and called Patel's injuries accidental, according to local media reports. His attorney could not be reached for comment at the start of the retrial.

Madison police released video of the encounter, which had been recorded from inside a patrol vehicle, and apologized for Parker's actions. The department recommended terminating the officer, which Parker challenged.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida)

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