Washington, Oct 30 (IANS) An Alabama police officer used a too violent technique, like “somebody cutting down a tree”, to slam an Indian grandfather to the ground, an expert witness testified in the retrial of the cop.
Former Madison Officer Eric Parker did not use a takedown consistent with prevailing national police standards for Sureshbhai Patel, who had arrived days earlier from India to take care of his grandson, Captain Kenny Sanders told a Huntsville court Thursday.
The first trial of Parker for the Feb 6 takedown of Patel while he was taking a walk near his son’s home ended early last month with a hung jury, as the jury split 10-2 in favour of acquittal. If convicted, Parker faces 10 years in federal prison.
“That was pretty violent technique that he used that day. I’ve never seen it,” said Sanders, who testified he is the senior master instructor for police training in the state of Louisiana, according to Al.com
“Lumberjack, that’s what it reminds me of, somebody cutting down a tree in their yard,” he said when asked about the takedown of Patel, 57, in response to a neighbour’s call about a “skinny black man” walking near homes.
The takedown left Patel in need of spinal surgery and with limited ability to walk or grip with his hands.
The defence has argued Patel pulled away as Parker searched him and that he could have had a deadly weapon in his pants’ pockets.
“If he was trying to pull away, it still would not have equated to the type of force … the technique is too violent,” testified Sanders.
He said Patel’s age, his size, his inability to speak English and the presence of multiple officers should have factored into the decision on how to handle Patel.
Sanders also testified he did not see a sign of a threat on the video, saying Patel’s legs seemed relaxed.
As for Patel walking away from officer, Sanders said: “That’s not really resistance.”
Earlier, Captain John Stringer, an 18-year veteran of the Madison police force, said the force used by Parker had to be proportional with the actions of Patel. “My conclusion was it was improper.”
After the prosecution rested, Defence attorney Robert Tuten asked the judge to throw out the case saying, “They did not prove he was wilfully, intentionally violating the civil rights of Mr. Patel by using excessive force.”
Assistant US Attorney Robert Posey replied that police must be “objectively reasonable” in taking steps that would be criminal assault if done by somebody else. “He’s lucky he didn’t kill him. This is essentially, the government would argue, deadly force.”