Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) expressed strong disappointment after a federal judge acquitted former Madison, Alabama policeman Eric Parker yesterday of federal charges for his attack on Indian immigrant Sureshbhai Patel last year. The decision precludes federal prosecutors from retrying Mr. Parker for the assault.
“Today’s decision unfortunately short-circuits the legal process to prosecute Eric Parker and leaves Mr. Patel and his family without closure,” said Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF’s Executive Director and Legal Counsel. “It is our hope that the civil process, and the pending charges in state court will provide Mr. Patel a modicum of justice that he has been denied in federal court.”
On February 6, 2015, Mr. Parker was responding to an alleged burglary complaint in a housing neighborhood where Mr. Patel was staying with his son in Madison, Alabama. Mr. Parker claims Mr. Patel, who does not speak much English, failed to respond to his purported instructions and that he acted within normal police procedures by pushing Mr. Patel forcefully to the ground. Mr. Parker was soon dismissed by his employer after federal prosecutors brought charges against him for the incident that left Mr. Patel paralysed from the neck down.
In granting the motion for acquittal, Judge Madeline Haikala noted that the first two trials against Officer Parker ended in hung juries, and stressed her frustration with the situation. She stopped short of claiming the injuries inflicted on Mr. Patel were evident of criminal behavior on the part of Mr. Parker.
“Mr. Patel’s celebrated arrival in this country to begin a new life with his son was interrupted in two tragic minutes,” stated Judge Haikala in her official opinion. “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. However, that injury, standing alone, does not provide the basis for a criminal judgment against Mr. Parker under 18 U.S.C. § 242.”