Jury deadlocks in officer's trial, deliberations to continue

AP News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2015 6:38 PM
Jury deadlocks in officer's trial, deliberations to continue

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Jurors hearing the federal trial of an Alabama police officer who slammed an Indian grandfather to the ground told a judge Thursday they had deadlocked, but were instructed to get a night's rest and continue deliberating the following day.

The jury in Madison police officer Eric Parker's trial told U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala that they were at a stalemate after hours of deliberations and needed instructions on what to do next.

Haikala told them to return Friday at 9 a.m. to re-evaluate testimony and evidence that was presented during the case. On Thursday morning, a juror was dismissed because of issues with travel plans. An alternate was appointed and jurors were asked to restart deliberations — which began Wednesday night — so the alternate could be part of them.

The trial began with opening statements on Sept. 2. Parker has said he took 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel (suh-REHSH'-by pah-TEL') to the ground after the man resisted officers during a suspicious-person investigation on Feb. 6.

Patel has denied resisting and said through an interpreter that he didn't understand officers' orders because he doesn't speak English. Patel was seriously injured in the fall.

Prosecutors have argued that Parker violated Patel's civil rights by using excessive force when he took the man down. Parker's defense attorney, Robert Tuten, has said the confrontation was an unfortunate escalation of police tactics, but not a criminal offense.

Parker has denied using a leg sweep to take Patel down. He said Patel slipped and fell. Parker acknowledged using a similar takedown maneuver in the past, however.

The police officer took the stand in his own defense Wednesday. He denied using any specific technique: "I've taken several subjects to the ground the same way and nothing has happened. This was an accident; this was not something intentional."

Tuten has acknowledged that a language barrier contributed to the situation and has said Patel's failure to comply also escalated the confrontation.

Parker is being fired by the city of Madison but has appealed. The termination process is on hold until criminal charges are resolved. He also faces a state assault charge.

Patel filed a federal lawsuit seeking an unspecified amount of money for his injuries. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley called Patel's treatment a case of "excessive force" in an apologetic letter to the Indian government.