Judge meets with lawyers behind closed doors prior to start of Madison officer’s second federal trial

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Today, the second federal trial will begin for Madison police officer Eric Parker.  He is charged with violating the civil rights of a man during an encounter in February.

The proceeding was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.  However, lawyers have been in a closed-door meeting with the judge all morning.  Journalists were being kept downstairs until that meeting ends, and witnesses are also being kept in a separate location.

Eric Parker walks out of the federal courthouse in Huntsville after a judge declared a mistrial in his case on September 11, 2015. (Shane Hays/WHNT News 19)

Eric Parker walks out of the federal courthouse in Huntsville after a judge declared a mistrial in his case on September 11, 2015. (Shane Hays/WHNT News 19)

This is a retrial.  A judge declared a mistrial the first time around after jurors failed to reach a verdict in September.

Monday, the jury selection process began.

Parker is charged with violating the civil rights of Sureshbhai Patel following an encounter in a Madison neighborhood off County Line Road on February 6.

Parker took the stand in his first trial and testified Patel gave indications from his behavior that he posed a threat to him and the officer he was training.  He said Patel was using what he called "passive resistance," by repeatedly walking away from officers, and putting his hands in his pockets.

Parker claimed Patel pulling his hands away from the officers several times is what resulted in the take down, and he said he was doing this in the name of officer safety.

Parker told jurors he did not use a leg-sweep to ground Patel, but rather lost his balance when he shifted his weight and both men fell to the ground.

Following the mistrial, prosecutors talked about their confidence in presenting their case before a second jury.

"The jury heard all the evidence, and we feel confident the next jury will get to hear all the evidence, and we look forward to having the chance," said U.S. Attorney Robert Posey.

Posey said after the trial they would reassess the case and see if there is anything they should do differently, and they look forward to the opportunity to try the case again.

Eric Parker's attorney, Robert Tuten, says he'll be prepared for this next go around, too, and his client stands prepared.

WHNT News 19 has covered this case extensively.  We'll continue to bring you the latest throughout the trial in our newscasts, on WHNT.com and on social media.

Jury selection continues Tuesday.