Washington: For the second time in less than two months, a US judge declared a mistrial in the case against an Alabama police officer charged with slamming an Indian grandfather to the ground last February and severely injuring him.
US District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case against Madison Police Officer Eric Parker, 27, for assaulting Sureshbhai Patel after the jury told her that it was deadlocked despite ‘intense discussions’, according to Al.com.
Parker’s first criminal trial at the federal courthouse in Huntsville ended Sep 11 with a jury hung 10-2 in favour of acquittal, leading to the retrial.
The retrial began Oct 26. The new jury spent more than three days deliberating after receiving the case on Friday afternoon. But on Wednesday afternoon it told the judge it had reached an impasse.
Patel who does not speak English, was walking in front of his son’s home on the morning of Feb 6 when a neighbour called police to report a suspicious person.
Parker and another officer stopped Patel. Parker says Patel did not comply with police orders, that he pulled away during a frisk and that he feared Patel could be armed. Parker testified he lost his balance during the takedown.
Patel said he did not understand officers, did not resist and did not pull away. Testifying through a Gujarati translator he told the court that he just stood there, that he did not jerk nor pull his hands away before the takedown.
“I did not try to run away but I did go back a couple of steps to show them my house, my house,” testified Patel on Wednesday. “They put their hands on me and I was just standing and did not move.”
Federal prosecutors argued Patel, 57, is a “small, old man” who does not speak English, had just arrived from India a week earlier and did not pose any threat to the pair of officers who confronted him.
Defence attorney Robert Tuten told the jury that lack of English does not excuse Patel: “When you come to the US we expect you to follow our laws and speak our language.”
He also argued that Patel’s actions led to the takedown, that Patel was not allowed to walk away from police or pull his hand away.
Assistant US Attorney Robert Posey, according to Al.com said Tuten had moved the judge for acquittal after the mistrial. The judge must rule on that before the prosecution can decide whether to bring the case back for a third trial.
Posey said: “I feel strongly about the case. It’s something we’re going to discuss…this is a strong case that needed to be brought. And it would be nice to get a resolution.”
Parker also faces a state charge of misdemeanour assault. That case has been on hold pending the outcome of the federal trial.
First Published | 5 November 2015 11:23 AM