Birmingham, AL — Although the governor of Alabama formally apologized to the Indian government last year and promised that justice would be served, a federal judge on Wednesday tossed out the civil rights case against the former cop responsible for partially paralyzing an innocent grandfather. Despite the fact that two separate police dashcam videos recorded the blatant use of excessive force on an elderly man, the judge dismissed the case because the officer’s two previous trials ended in hung juries.
At 9:00 a.m. on February 6, 2015, Sureshbhai Patel had been visiting his son’s family in Madison, Alabama, when he decided to take a morning walk through the neighborhood. Although the Indian grandfather had committed no crime, Madison Police Officer Eric Parker and his partner confronted Patel on the sidewalk in an attempt to question him. Unable to communicate with the officers or understand their commands, Patel tried to speak in broken English.
“He’s saying, ‘No English,’” Parker’s partner observed as they continued to interrogate Patel.
Parker later testified that Patel’s actions and appearance were “in sequence” with those of a burglar because the Indian grandfather did not answer questions and attempted to walk away during their encounter. Although Patel had not broken the law and was not carrying any weapons or burglary equipment, Parker suspected he was a burglar. At no point did he consider the possibility that Patel was visiting the country from India, struggling to communicate, and could not speak English.
Two police dashcam videos recorded Parker restraining Patel’s arms behind his back before suddenly sweeping the man’s legs out from under him while simultaneously slamming Patel face-first into the ground. With blood pouring down his face, Patel remained on the lawn unable to feel his arms and legs.
As another officer approached them, one of the cops acknowledged, “He don’t speak a lick of English.”
While recovering from surgery after doctors performed a cervical spinal fusion, Patel filed a lawsuit against the city and the two cops who initially confronted him. Since Patel does not have health insurance, his family launched a fundraising campaign at GoFundMe.com to accept donations towards his medical expenses.
Six days after the incident, Parker was charged with third-degree assault and later fired from the department. On March 26, 2015, a federal grand jury decided to indict Parker for use of unreasonable force. Even though Parker was caught on video clearly violating Patel’s civil rights, his two previous trials ended in hung juries.
In September, U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala declared a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision. A second mistrial was declared two months later. Arguing on Wednesday that the prosecution did not eliminate reasonable doubt that Parker had used excessive force in his prior two trials, Haikala decided to throw out the case against the cowardly cop who felt threatened by an unarmed, innocent elderly man.
Last year, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley formally apologized to the government of India for the brutal assault. Referring to the use of excessive force, Governor Bentley assured the Indian government that justice would be served while expressing regret for Patel’s spinal cord injuries
“I wish to assure you and the government of India that we will see that justice is done,” Governor Bentley wrote last year. “I deeply regret the unfortunate use of excessive force by the Madison Police Department on Sureshbhai Patel and for the injuries sustained by Mr. Patel. I sincerely hope that Mr. Patel continues to improve and that he will regain full use of his legs.”
Instead of fulfilling Bentley’s promise, the U.S. justice system has once again failed an innocent person abused by an incompetent coward who should never have been given a badge and a gun in the first place.
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