Prosecution rests in Madison officer’s federal trial


Eric Parker, left, leaves the federal courthouse during his first trial in September 2015. (WHNT News 19 file)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - New claims and numerous witnesses in the federal trial of a Madison police officer Thursday.

Officer Eric Parker is charged with depriving Sureshbhai Patel of his civil rights. In February, the 57-year-old Indian man suffered a spinal cord injury after Parker slammed him to the ground.

Thursday was a stop-and-go day in the courtroom, with nearly as many delays as testimony. The prosecution rested its case after calling three more witnesses to the stand Thursday morning.

Among the witnesses were neurosurgeon Dr. Chang Tao, who treated Sureshbhai Patel, dispatcher Angela Sharp, and Special Operations Captain John Stringer. Their testimony was punctuated by a more than hour-long delay, wherein attorneys argued over what evidence would be admissible in court.

Defense attorney Robert Tuten told WHNT News 19, "Unfortunately it's part of this type of case, with complicated issues, where the judge has to make rulings on evidence as its being presented."

After lunch, the defense moved for acquittal. Judge Madeline Haikala said she would take it into consideration, but did not outright deny the defense's request.

Tuten then called a series of Madison officers to the stand,  including one who made a shocking claim - that he had seen Mr. Patel walking without any assistance despite claims of serious injury.

Hank Sherrod, Patel's attorney in a pending civil case, said "I'm appalled, the family's appalled that they would bring somebody in to say Mr. Patel was walking unassisted, as if he wasn't severely injured from this incident."

Tuten said about the claim, "I think the evidence was clear on that point."

The day wrapped up with yet another lengthy delay, as the prosecution sought to disallow testimony from a "self-defense expert."

The jury was sent home for the day around 4 p.m. and the trial is expected to resume tomorrow morning at 8:45 a.m.

The judge is also expected to rule in the morning on whether the defense's self-defense expert will be allowed to testify.