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Judge declares mistrial in US cop assault on Indian grandfather

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

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Washington: A 57-year-old Indian grandfather, who was slammed by an Alabama police officer as he was walking in his son’s neighbourhood that left him partially paralysed, has been served justice as a US judge declared a mistrial in the federal trial.

Eric Parker, the 26-year-old police officer, was charged with violating the civil rights under colour of law of Sureshbhai Patel during an incident on Feb 6, just six days after he had arrived from India to take care of his grandson.

Trying Parker in a Huntsville, Albama federal court, 12-person jury couldn’t reach a verdict in this US cop assault on Patel case, which must be unanimous. A US District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala declared mistrial, Al.com reported.

Based on the final note the jury sent to Haikala, no jury changed their position since deliberations began anew when an alternate juror was added on Thursday morning. Altogether, the new jury deliberated about 10 hours.

Prosecutor Robert Posey said the US government will try the case against Parker again.

“We plan to re-try the case and so another jury will get a chance to see this evidence and hear the testimony,” Posey said. “We will let them decide.”

The Patel family, through attorney Hank Sherrod, declined to comment on the mistrial in an email to AL.com.

Expecting a re-trial not very far in the future, Posey said federal law mandates the trial begin within 70 days, unless one side asks for a delay and it’s granted by the judge.

“Our team is going to go back and huddle up and review, as you might expect, everything that we’ve done and see if there’s anything we want to change,” Posey said.

“We were able to introduce all of our evidence. The jury got a chance to hear from the defendant. We’ll just look forward to the next time,” he said.

“Obviously some of them saw things our way and some of them didn’t. At the end of the day, we come back and try it again. We’ll see how that goes,” said Parker’s attorney, Robert Tuten.

The case has drawn international attention after video of the take down of Patel went viral.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued an apology to the government of India for the incident. In his apology, the governor described the actions taken by Parker as “excessive force.”

With inputs from IANS

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US court acquits policeman charged with assaulting Indian grandfather

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Washington: To the shock of the Indian American community, a US judge has acquitted an Alabama police officer who slammed a visiting Indian grandfather to the ground while taking a walk outside his son’s home.

Federal Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala threw out the case against Madison Police officer Eric Parker, who faced up to 10 years in prison for using excessive force against 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel down in February last year, Al.com reported.

Turning down the prosecutors’ plea for a third trial after two mistrials, Haikala late on Wednesday filed a 92-page opinion, saying: “The government has had two full and fair chances to obtain a conviction; it will not have another.”

“The result in this case is by no means satisfying. Hindsight brings clarity to a calamity,” she wrote in the conclusion of her opinion.

“Mr. Patel’s celebrated arrival in this country to begin a new life with his son was interrupted in two tragic minutes.”

“If Mr. Parker or Mr. Patel could take that time back, both would surely do things differently and avoid the events that have forever changed both of their lives.”

“Mr. Patel had-and has-just as much right to be free from excessive force as every citizen of this country. He is welcome here, and it is appropriate to grieve his injury.”

“However, that injury, standing alone, does not provide the basis for a criminal judgment against Mr. Parker under 18 U.S.C. 242.”

A team of three federal prosecutors had twice tried Parker last year for the takedown of Patel on the morning of February 6, 2015. Both trials ended with a deadlocked jury.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors had filed a motion against acquittal, arguing that a reasonable jury could view the video and listen to testimony and decide Parker intentionally used excessive force in slamming Patel into the ground.

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 February 6, a neighbour 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.

Cheng Tao, the neurosurgeon who operated on Patel at Huntsville Hospital, twice testified that the takedown left Patel unable to walk or grip his hands.

Tao told both juries that he replaced one vertebra in Patel’s neck with a metal cylinder and plate.

Parker still faces a state charge of misdemeanour assault in Limestone County.

The case drew international interest prompting Governor Robert Bentley to issue a letter apologising to Patel and to India. (IANS)

(Picture courtesy: www.gofundme.com)