Ex-officer: Not-guilty plea in confrontation with Indian man

AP News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2015 4:53 PM
Ex-officer: Not-guilty plea in confrontation with Indian man

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A former Alabama police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of violating the rights of an Indian grandfather injured during a violent confrontation earlier this year.

Eric Sloan Parker, 26, entered a plea of not guilty during a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Harwell G. Davis III, court records showed.

Parker, who was accompanied by his lawyer, is free on $5,000 bond. His trial is set for June 1, although it could be delayed.

Parker is accused of using unreasonable force against 57-year-old Indian grandfather Sureshbhai Patel in February.

Patel was walking in suburban Madison where he was visiting family when a resident called police about a suspicious man.

Police video captured images of an officer slamming Patel to the ground face-first. The man is still recovering from injuries, and donors on a GoFundMe.com campaign established to pay for his medical expenses have given nearly $210,000.

Parker also faces a state assault charge stemming from his alleged treatment of Patel. A hearing in that case is set for May 13.

A separate civil lawsuit filed by Patel over the incident is on hold while the criminal charges are resolved.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley previously apologized to the Indian government for Patel's treatment, calling it a case of "excessive force."

Patel, who doesn't speak English, was spotted by police after a caller said a "skinny black guy" with a knit cap was walking in the neighborhood and peering into garages, according to recordings and other accounts released by police.

Officers arrived in patrol cars within minutes and found Patel walking in his son's neighborhood in Madison, a town of about 46,000 people near high-tech businesses. Video showed officers were unable to communicate with the man, who attempted to walk away from them, before an officer forced Patel to the ground.

Patel's lawyer said he is still recovering from injuries, including partial paralysis.