Eric Parker: Actions taken in detainment of Patel were for “officer safety”

Huntsville

Eric Parker (Photo: WHNT News 19 file photo)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – He’s been the target of accusations for months, but for the first time Wednesday we heard Eric Parker’s side of the story as the Madison police officer took the stand in his own defense.

It was the last day of testimony, and Parker spent most of the day answering questions about the takedown of 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel.  Parker is charged with depriving Patel of his civil rights during the February incident.

Late Wednesday, the jury began deliberations.  WHNT News 19 will bring you the verdict as soon as it’s reached.

During the trial the jury heard from Sureshbhai Patel, his son, his neurosurgeon, a self-defense expert and several Madison police officers.

Video from February 6, 2015 has been played in its entirety, at half speed, and quarter speed.  But Wednesday was the first time jury got the opportunity to be walked through the dash cam video evidence, step by step.

Parker testified Patel gave indications from his behavior that he posed a threat to Parker and the officer he was training.

That included Patel repeatedly walking away from the officers when they approached to investigate possible trespassing as well as putting his hands in his pocket, described as ‘passive resistance.’

Parker told jurors he did not use a ‘leg sweep’ to ground Patel, saying when he shifted his weight to take Patel down, he lost his balance and both men fell to the ground.

Parker said Patel pulled his left hand away four times while he was trying to control them.  He said the fourth time resulted in the takedown.

Parker reiterated several times throughout his testimony during prosecution’s questioning that the actions he took were in the interest of officer safety.  On responding to a call about a suspicious man lurking in the neighborhood and look into garages, Parker said “I was there to investigate.”

That was the tenor of testimony Wednesday — Parker saying at the time, he had no idea Patel was a grandfather, that he was 57 years old, and that he lived nearby.  Parker’s point was that he was only doing his job.

Read our courtroom blog for minute-by-minute updates.  WHNT News 19 will bring you the verdict as soon as the jury announces it.  Make sure you have WHNT’s app for breaking news alerts — it’s free on iTunes and Google Play.

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