HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) A police officer didn’t need to use a leg sweep to take down a 58-year-old Indian man who was partially paralyzed when he hit the ground, one of the officer’s colleagues said Wednesday.
Madison officer Charles Spence testified that he drove up to the scene and saw officer Eric Parker holding the man’s hands behind his back. Parker shouldn’t have handcuffed Sureshbhai Patel unless he had probable cause that he was committing a crime or had been resisting officers, Spence said.
Parker faces a charge of violating Patel’s civil rights in February. Patel was visiting his son in Huntsville and walking in the neighborhood when police received a call about a suspicious person.
Jurors watched video of Parker slamming Patel to the ground when he didn’t respond to questions. Before and after the takedown, officers could be heard on the video repeatedly asking Patel, who speaks little English, for identification and details about what he was doing in the neighborhood.
Parker’s attorney Robert Tuten said officers are trained to be suspicious and must always expect the worst. The use of force was justified considering the circumstances, he said.
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Patel doesn’t speak English. It’s also unfortunate that Mr. Parker doesn’t speak Hindi,” he said.
Prosecutors slowed down the video for jurors and showed them enlarged versions of it. In the video, Patel turns his head toward Parker just before being thrown to the ground. Prosecutors said Patel was confused by officers’ orders.
Patel was handcuffed after he was taken down, but officers later took the cuffs off when it became clear he was hurt. Spence said the leg sweep maneuver Parker used was risky because Patel couldn’t brace himself.
Court documents show Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey is expected to testify for prosecutors that Parker’s actions violated department procedures.
Muncey publicly apologized to Patel, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley called Patel’s treatment a case of “excessive force” in an apologetic letter to the Indian government.
Parker is being fired by the city of Madison, but he appealed and the termination process is on hold until criminal charges are resolved.
Parker also faces a state assault charge. Patel filed a federal lawsuit seeking an unspecified amount of money for his injuries.
Patel has been joined in Alabama by his wife and now lives with his son while undergoing physical rehabilitation. He is a grandfather and waited nine years for a visa to visit his son, prosecutors said.