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Retrial of Cop Who Assaulted Indian Grandfather in Alabama

Both prosecution and defence are gearing up for the retrial of the cop who assaulted Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, USA

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Days after a federal judge in Alabama, USA declared a mistrial in the case of a police officer accused of assaulting an Indian grandfather, both the prosecution and the defence are gearing up for the retrial of the police officer Eric Sloan Parker – and both expect to win.

Back in February, Parker seriously injured Sureshbhai Patel, 58, as he went on a morning stroll in the neighbourhood where his son Chirag Patel, a defence contractor lived.

The senior Patel had come to visit his family to help out with his grandson who is developmentally delayed.

Both prosecution and defence are gearing up for the retrial of the cop who assaulted Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, USA
Chirag Patel helps his father, Sureshbhai Patel, as they arrive outside the federal courthouse. (Photo: AP)
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Parker responded to a call about a suspicious person and slammed Sureshbhai on a pavement and arrested him. The grandfather, who spoke no English and had no identification on him, was permanently injured.

The incident was filmed, drew international outrage and resulted in the Governor of Alabama issuing an apology. But ten of the jurors voted to issue a not guilty verdict, even after they saw the video.

Hank Sherrod, the attorney representing the family in a civil rights lawsuit was a “watcher” in the criminal case.

I think Parker’s attorney was very effective in muddying up waters. He made the case about police training and procedures followed by law enforcement, taking attention away from the real issue of abuse of power by the cop.
— Hank Sherrod, the attorney representing the Patel family in a civil rights lawsuit

Sherrod added that he had imposed a gag order on the Patels.

I want the family to keep a low profile. My real fear is their speaking out will cause a distraction in the civil case, which is going forward soon.
— Hank Sherrod, the attorney representing the Patel family in a civil rights lawsuit

Sherrod says he is surprised that the jury failed to find the cop guilty after viewing the video of the incident, which he describes as “sickening and horrifying.”

Both prosecution and defence are gearing up for the retrial of the cop who assaulted Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, USA
Former police officer Eric Sloan Parker walks into a federal courthouse. (Photo: AP)
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He is hopeful that the prosecution will win the case next time.

Peggy Sanford, a spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Alabama, concurred and said that they expect to win next time.

“Obviously, we were not happy at the jury’s decision but we are taking it back to court.”

Robert Tuten, the attorney for Parker, says his client followed protocol and asked Sureshbhai for his identification repeatedly and requested that the grandfather take his hands out of his pocket three times.

Both prosecution and defence are gearing up for the retrial of the cop who assaulted Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, USA
Sureshbhai Patel steadies himself with a walker. (Photo: AP)
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He also said that Parker tried to slam Sureshbhai on the grass but lost his balance and they landed on the sidewalk.

He says that race has nothing to do with the incident.

This is just one of those unfortunate incidents that happen in life. Had Mr Patel complied with the officers’ orders, we would not be here today.
— Parker’s attorney Robert Tuten

He says Parker is “saddened” and “disappointed” with the outcome of events.

(Sonia Chopra is a freelance journalist based in the US.)

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