Madison Police officer Eric Parker still waiting for word on third civil rights trial

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Eric Parker (Photo: WHNT News 19 file photo)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The judge in the Eric Parker federal civil rights, police use of force case, held a conference call this morning, but she issued no rulings on a new trial date or on a defense motion for an acquittal.

Parker has been tried twice for his takedown of an Indian man in an early morning encounter in Madison in February. Both times the jury deadlocked.

The case drew international attention after the Madison Police Department released dashcam video of the encounter, which shows Patel being slammed headfirst to the ground.

Federal prosecutors have said they plan to try Parker again on the charge that he violated the civil rights of 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel, by using excessive force while acting as a police officer.  The charge carries up to 10 years in prison, if Parker is convicted.

Following the second mistrial Nov. 3, Parker’s attorney Robert Tuten submitted a motion for the court to acquit Parker based on insufficient evidence.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala has not ruled on that motion. If she grants it, Parker is acquitted and the federal case is over.

If she denies the motion, as she did twice during the trial, a new trial date would have to be set.

Patel was injured in the encounter with Parker, he needed spinal surgery and has to use a walker to get around, according to trial testimony.

Tuten has argued that Parker was engaged in routine police work. Patel refused to cooperate with Parker and the officer he was training that day, Tuten has argued.

Parker testified he wasn’t convinced Patel doesn’t speak English, as Patel claimed, and after Patel refused to allow him to conduct a proper search for a weapon, he decided to take him to the ground.

Parker said he didn’t use a “leg sweep” to take down Patel. He said he slipped while attempting to put him on the ground.

The government prosecutors contend there was no justification for Parker to use that level of force.

Parker is also still facing a state court misdemeanor assault charge and a civil lawsuit filed by Patel’s family. Those cases are on hold pending the outcome of the criminal trial.



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