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Madison Police officer indicted for civil rights violation

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Eric Parker, Madison police officer recommended for termination after the incident involving Sureshbhai Patel on Feb. 6 (Photo: Limestone County Sheriff's Office)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham announced Friday that Madison Police Officer Eric Parker has been indicted on civil rights violations charges.

The incident took place the morning of Feb. 6. A neighbor called police about a suspicious man walking in the neighborhood and dispatchers sent two officers there.

Video released by the Madison Police department shows Officer Parker throwing 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground, severely injuring him, while investigating the call.

Following an internal investigation, Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey said he recommended Parker be terminated. Parker was also charged with third-degree assault as a result of the investigation. Attorneys for Eric Parker filed paperwork to waive his arraignment and enter a not guilty plea.

The FBI conducted a civil rights inquiry and turned over its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hank Sherrod, Sureshbhai Patel’s attorney, said Patel is currently in a rehabilitation center, but expects to be released in a week or so. Sherrod said he still faces a long road to recovery.

Sherrod released this statement after the indictment was announced:

“Mr. Patel and his family are very pleased by the prompt and decisive action of U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance and the federal grand jury. For the public to trust police officers, it needs to know officers will be held accountable, and the felony civil rights charges filed against Parker, unlike the misdemeanor assault charge being pursued in state court, more accurately reflect the seriousness of Parker’s conduct.

Mr. Patel and his family are also deeply thankful for the continued support and concern of the local community and the general public. With the wind of these good thoughts and prayers at his back, through hard work and with the help of skilled and caring therapists at Healthsouth Rehabilitation Center in Huntsville, Mr. Patel has made tremendous progress in his recovery. Recently, Mr. Patel was able to walk a short distance on his own using a walker, an important milestone in his recovery. In the near future, Mr. Patel expects to be released to the home of his son, Chirag, where he will continue his therapy.”