Judge tosses civil rights case against Alabama cop who paralyzed Indian grandfather

Eric Parker still faces a state charge of misdemeanor assault and a civil lawsuit.

Maaaan, this is some bullshit. In Alabama, a judge threw out the case against the police officer who was accused of using excessive force on a 57-year-old Indian man, partially paralyzing him.

Judge throws out case against police officer charged in takedown of Indian grandfather

On Wednesday, Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala threw out the case against Madison police office Eric Parker, who faced up to ten years in prison for excessive force after he was caught on camera throwing Sureshbhai Patel to the ground last year during a sidewalk stop.

The altercation left Mr. Patel partially paralyzed and hospitalized with a fused vertebrae, requiring surgery and months of rehabilitation. His apparent crime: going for a walk. (And being brown.) Parker can be seen in police dash cam video yanking Mr. Patel's arm and taking him down with a leg sweep, slamming him into the ground.

Police officers were responding to a call regarding a "suspicious person" in the neighborhood. That person turned out to be Mr. Patel, who was visiting from India and staying with his son's family. Patel, who does not speak English, was on an afternoon walk when he was stopped by police. Somehow, the situation rapidly escalated from "No English," to Mr. Patel getting his face slammed into the ground.

Parker was fired from the Madison Police Department and charged with third-degree assault. Prosecutors argued that Parker violated Mr. Patel's civil rights, while Parker's lawyer's claimed Mr. Patel's injuries were his own fault because of his inability to "follow our laws and speak our language."

Parker twice testified that he lost his balance and fell. He also testified that Patel repeatedly jerked his hand away from Parker. "It concerned me that he was going for that weapon I presumed he had," testified Parker.

Patel, who had just arrived from India to help care for his grandson, testified he does not speak English and did not resist. "I did not try to run away but I did go back a couple of steps to show them my house, my house," testified Patel through an interpreter at the second trial. "They put their hands on me and I was just standing and did not move."

On the morning of Feb. 6, a neighbor had called police to complain of a "skinny black guy" who is "just kind of walking around close to the garage." Police found Patel walking along the sidewalk. But Patel could not answer questions and the confused encounter ended with Patel in an ambulance.

Parker was tried twice for the assault, with both trials ending with a deadlocked jury.

In her opinion, Judge Haikala ruled that Mr. Patel's injuries, standing along, did not provide enough basis for a criminal judgment against Mr. Parker, and the evidence offered at two trials did not eliminate reasonable doubt as to his guilt. In fact, the judge's analysis offers the opinion that Parker's use of force was justified.

"The takedown was based on what Mr. Patel did—he clearly walked away from officers, he clearly turned to look at Officer Parker and took a step while Officer Parker was restraining him for a pat down, and there is strong though disputed evidence that he jerked his arm as Officer Parker was trying to restrain his hands."

The judge also affirms the defense's argument that Mr. Patel's lack of English proficiency in the situation -- contributing to the escalation force -- was his own fault:

"Trial testimony indicates that Mr. Patel had the opportunity to become familiar with simple English commands like 'stop' and 'come' because Mr. Patel had visited his son in Alabama twice before Mr. Patel moved to the United States, the more recent visit lasting eight months."

You can read the judge's full opinion here. This is an immensely unsatisfying end to this case. Then again, when it comes to seeking justice for police misconduct, it's really just business as usual, isn't it?

Parker still faces a state charge of misdemeanor assault and a civil lawsuit.

More here: Cleared of civil rights charge, police officer Eric Parker still faces assault charge and lawsuit


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