BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A judge has dismissed state charges against a north Alabama police officer accused of assaulting an Indian man during a suspicious person investigation.
Limestone County District Judge Douglas Patterson dismissed the case against 27-year-old Eric Parker on Thursday afternoon.
Parker was recorded slamming Sureshbhai Patel, 58, to the ground in February 2015. Patel was out for a walk in his son's suburban Huntsville neighborhood and was approached by police after a neighbor who called 911 reported a thin black man walking through the area looking at houses.
Parker has said Patel resisted him. Patel has said through an interpreter that he doesn't speak English and didn't understand Parker's orders. Patel was seriously injured in the fall.
Two federal civil rights trials against Parker ended in hung juries before he was acquitted. Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey was found guilty of contempt in April for talking to Parker's colleagues about their testimonies in his first trial.
Patterson's decision came after Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Patel's attorney, Hank Sherrod, called the state's decision to drop the case against Parker troubling.
"Instead of doing what lawyers do and using the transcripts from the failed federal criminal prosecution to craft a winning strategy to get justice for Mr. Patel, the Alabama Attorney General and the lawyers under his supervision have used those transcripts as an excuse not to do their job," Sherrod said in a statement.
"This decision illustrates how difficult it is to hold law enforcement officers accountable under the criminal laws for brutal acts that would send an ordinary citizen to jail."
Parker still faces a federal civil trial, but his attorney Robert Tuten said he's relieved to no longer face criminal charges.
"This would have been the same case yet again just in different venue. It is time to admit that enough is enough and move on," Tuten said in a statement.
"We all feel sorry for Mr. Patel and hate that he was injured. Parker was just a young inexperienced officer trying to do an impossible job the best he could."