Brynn Anderson / AP

Mistrial declared in civil rights case against Alabama police officer

Eric Parker accused of violating rights of Indian grandfather thrown to the ground and injured during morning walk

A judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of an Alabama police officer who slammed an Indian man to the ground, after jurors failed to break an impasse despite the judge's insistence that they keep trying.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala had asked the jurors to consider how important the case is, how expensive it has been financially and emotionally for everyone involved, and the possibility that it's not certain a retrial would result in a stronger prosecution or defense. The police officer was tried in federal court on accusations that he used unreasonable force while on patrol in Madison, Alabama, during the February incident.

If convicted, the officer, Eric Parker, 26, would face up to 10 years in prison. Federal prosecutors said Friday they plan to seek a retrial. 

Parker was charged with violating the civil rights of Sureshbhai Patel, 58, when he slammed Patel to the ground during an investigation in February.

Patel was approached by police during a morning walk in suburban Huntsville. A neighbor who saw Patel called police and reported a thin black man walking through the neighborhood and acting suspiciously.

Defense attorney Robert Tuten has said the confrontation was an unfortunate escalation of police tactics and not a criminal offense.

Parker has said Patel resisted officers multiple times, and that he acted out of concern for his safety and that of a second officer at the scene.

Patel has denied resisting and said through an interpreter that he didn't understand Parker because he doesn't speak English. Video recorded by a dash cam on the patrol, released by the Madison police department, showed Patel turning to look at Parker while his hands were behind his back just before he was slammed to the ground and seriously injured, suffering partial paralysis. 

Testifying in his own defense during the trial this week, Parker said he was following his training and felt he had no other option, television station WAFF reported. He said the injuries were an accident.

The department apologized for Parker's actions and recommended his termination, which he has challenged.

The grandfather had been on a morning walk about two weeks after moving from India to northern Alabama to help his son's family care for a young child.

Patel has sued Parker and the city, alleging racism played into his treatment.

Parker was also charged in state court with misdemeanor assault. That trial and his termination proceedings are on hold pending the outcome of the federal case.

Wire services



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