Washington: An American police officer accused of violently assaulting an unarmed 58-year-old Indian grandfather and leaving him partially paralysed went on trial on charges of using excessive force.
Eric Parker, 26, former Madison police officer was charged with violating the civil rights of Sureshbhai Patel in the US states of Alabama in February. The trial began in the federal courthouse in Huntsville on Tuesday. Patel arrived at the court on Tuesday morning on a walker where he was expected to testify through a translator.
Parker, who was subsequently fired by the Madison Police Department, faces up to 10 years in prison on the federal charge if convicted. He also faces a misdemeanour assault charge in Limestone County, but that case has been put on hold pending the outcome of the federal trial.
The incident occurred on the morning of February 6 when while walking down the sidewalk, Patel “was violently assaulted by a police official without provocation, and left partially paralysed,” the 11-page lawsuit had said. A day before, Patel had arrived in the US to assist his son and daughter-in-law in caring for their 17-month-old child who suffered a developmental delay after a premature birth.
In the video, Patel was seen walking quietly. He was not seen peeping at any of the houses or garage as the police was told in an non-emergency call it received from a neighbour. Two police officers were seen approaching Patel and asking him questions – like name, address and identity card. Patel is heard saying “No English” and pointing finger towards his son’s home. Soon one of the police officer, later identified as Parker, is seen violently throwing Patel on the ground and threatening him not to leave. It is at this time it appears Patel was paralysed, apparently by shock.
The US government had expressed condolences to Patel’s family but refrained to comment on any diplomatic discussion with India which has taken up the issue with it. The Governor of the US state of Alabama had apologised for the “unfortunate” use of excessive force by police that left him partially paralysed.
Governor Robert Bentley had also ordered the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to launch a parallel investigation the Federal Bureau of Investigation has already started its own probe into the use of “excessive force” against Patel.