New York, Jan 14 (IANS) A US court has acquitted an Alabama police officer who was arrested for brutally assaulting an Indian elderly man in February last year, media reported on Thursday.
In an apparent jolt to the paralysed Sureshbahi Patel’s bid to seek justice, the court acquitted Eric Parker on the grounds of being “presumed innocent” after two mistrials could not establish his guilt beyond doubt, Al.com reported.
Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala threw out the case against Parker, who faced up to 10 years in prison for using excessive force against Patel.
A team of three federal prosecutors had twice tried Parker last year for the takedown of 57-year-old Sureshbahi Patel. Both trials ended with a deadlocked jury.
“Mr Patel had-and has-just as much right to be free from excessive force as every citizen of this country. He is welcome here, and it is appropriate to grieve his injury,” Haikala was quoted as saying.
“However, that injury, standing alone, does not provide the basis for a criminal judgment against Mr. Parker,” the judge added.
Parker still faces a state charge of misdemeanor assault in Limestone County.
On the morning of February 6 last year, a neighbour in Huntsville called police to complain of a “skinny black guy” who is “just kind of walking around close to the garage.”
Police found Patel walking along the sidewalk but Patel, owing to lack of knowledge of English, could not answer questions and the confused encounter ended with Patel in an ambulance.
Patel who arrived from India to help care for his grandson later testified that he does not speak English and did not resist. “I did not try to run away but I did go back a couple of steps to show them my house,” testified Patel through an interpreter at the second trial.
“They put their hands on me and I was just standing and did not move,” he added.
The case drew international interest, drawing Indian diplomats to Madison and prompting Governor Robert Bentley to issue a letter apologizing to Patel and to India.
Patel now lives with his son while undergoing medical care.