Federal judge dismisses Alabama officer's excessive force case

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a civil rights case against an Alabama police officer accused of using excessive force on an Indian man.

See Full Article

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala granted a motion to acquit Madison police officer Eric Parker after his two previous trials ended in hung juries.

In her 92-page opinion, Haikala said evidence that was presented during Parker's two trials didn't eliminate reasonable doubt that Parker was guilty of a crime.

"The Court has no reason to expect a different result in a subsequent trial given the totality of the evidence that the parties have provided," Haikala wrote.

Parker slammed 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel (suh-REHSH'-by pah-TEL') down face first during a suspicious person investigation in February in a Huntsville suburb. The incident was recorded on cameras inside patrol vehicles and Patel was injured in the takedown.

Parker has testified that Patel tried to pull away from him, indicating he may have been up to no good.

Patel has said through an interpreter that he doesn't speak English and couldn't understand officers' orders.

Haikala said in her opinion that based on his training, Parker had to consider that Patel might have said that to evade officers.

Parker had testified that Patel's actions and appearance were "in sequence" with those of a burglar. He told jurors Patel tried walking away and wouldn't answer questions when officers approached him. Parker has said he was suspicious when Patel reached for his pockets and when he pulled one of his hands free during a pat-down.

Patel wasn't armed and suffered a spinal injury when he was thrown down face-first on a lawn. During the first trial, Parker said he lost his balance and fell on top of the man.

Jurors watched police video that shows an officer knocking Patel's legs out from under him and pushing him face-first to the ground. Patel said his arms and legs went numb after the impact, and he could not stand on his own. Parker's colleagues had given conflicting testimony on whether the takedown violated department policy or was necessary.

Judge Haikala said the video didn't account for critical details, including whether Patel put his hands in his pockets before Parker restrained him. Gaps in the evidence were "insurmountable" in the case and it's unlikely that prosecutors would do better in a third or fourth trial, Haikala wrote.

Patel had been in the United States only a few days at the time of the confrontation, which happened as Parker and another officer were checking a citizen's report of a suspicious person in a suburban neighbourhood near Huntsville.

Jurors deliberated for days in both trials and Parker's attorney Robert Tuten said after the second mistrial in November that the length of the jury's discussions highlights the complexity of the case. Tuten has called the case an unfortunate escalation of police tactics.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Posey has said one of the primary difficulties in prosecuting law enforcement in civil rights cases is proving that an officer knew he or she was acting unlawfully.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has apologized to the Indian government for Patel's treatment, calling it a case of excessive force and Patel has filed a civil lawsuit against Parker.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.S. slams Syria with 271 sanctions [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    The United States has issued 271 sanctions in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. It’s one of the largest sanction actions in U.S. history. The Trump administration said Monday that it issued sanctions against 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons. Source
  • Tennessee teacher planned to take teenaged student to Mexico

    World News CTV News
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A Tennessee teacher charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old student and driving her to California had planned to take the girl to Mexico and took a boat from San Diego on a test run, according to federal court documents filed Monday. Source
  • Filipino strongman Duterte to ISIS: ‘I’ll eat their livers’

    World News Toronto Sun
    Tough-talking Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte is warning ISIS killers that he’ll “eat their livers.” Duterte told the opening of a sport tournament in Laos: “Just drive me to extreme anger, and I can eat a person. Give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat his liver. Source
  • Man, while in jail, accused of trafficking minors for sex with help from wife, mother

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A man conspired with his wife and mother to traffic three minors for sex in South Carolina to help him make bail, federal prosecutors said Monday. The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release that Zerrell Fuentes, 22, his wife, Brianna Wright, 24, and his mother, Tanya Fuentes, 53, each face a number of sex trafficking charges. Source
  • Ann Coulter's backers at UC Berkeley file lawsuit

    World News Toronto Sun
    BERKELEY, CALIF. - University of California, Berkeley students who invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus filed a lawsuit Monday against the university, saying it is discriminating against conservative speakers and violating students’ rights to free speech. Source
  • B.C. police make major fentanyl bust

    Canada News CTV News
    Police in British Columbia say they have made numerous arrests and taken approximately $300,000 worth of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets. New Westminster Police Acting Sgt. Jeff Scott called the drug bust “very significant. Source
  • 'She was trying to right a wrong:' Trial begins in 2015 gas-and-dash death

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- The Crown prosecuting the hit-and-run death of a gas station worker says the woman died while she was trying to "right a wrong." Joshua Cody Mitchell is on trial for second-degree murder. Source
  • Canadians only now starting to get heads around pot legalization, forum told

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canada's provinces, municipalities and Canadians themselves are only now really starting to come to grips with the pending legalization of marijuana, a forum heard Monday. Former justice minister Anne McLellan, who headed a national task force on the issue, said while a majority of people are in favour of legal pot, most don't understand what that means. Source
  • FSU mascot stabbed to death in gumbo spice dispute

    World News Toronto Sun
    It was the last hurrah for the former Florida State University mascot Chief Osceola. Caleb Halley — who played the fighting Seminole at home games — was stabbed to death on June 23, 2015. And now, the man who murdered him has been found guilty. Source
  • Marine Le Pen temporarily stepping down as National Front party leader

    World News Toronto Sun
    French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has announced that she is temporarily stepping down as head of her National Front party. Monday’s move appears to be a way for Le Pen to embrace a wide range of potential voters ahead of the May 7 runoff between herself and Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist who came in first in Sunday’s first round. Source