‘US cop tackled Indian grandfather in an improper manner’

Washington, Sep 4 (IANS) An Alabama police officer accused of using excessive force against an Indian grandfather walking in his son’s neighbourhood used an improper method to subdue him by slamming him down to the ground, a US court was told.

Appearing as a prosecution witness at the trial of former police officer Eric Parker, 26, in a Huntsville, Alabama federal court Thursday Capt. John Stringer said that force is supposed to be proportional to the threat and circumstances. Stringer, who oversees special operations, including training, for the Madison Police Department, said during controlled takedowns officers are supposed to decelerate the fall to minimise injury, local Al.com reported.

Stringer said he watched the video of Parker’s takedown of Patel that same day in February.

Asked for his opinion on the technique Parker employed, Stringer testified “I thought it was improper. I saw no indications of resistance, or active resistance or aggressive resistance.”

Stringer also said he did not observe any signs of flight or attack by Patel.

A Madison dispatcher also testified that she searched through records of past police calls that might have helped Officer Eric Parker support a claim for probable cause to stop and slam down Patel.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday replayed the calls between Parker and dispatcher Angela Sharp. They argued that the search for probable cause after the fact showed that Parker had “knowledge of guilt.”

Parker faces a federal charge of deprivation of rights under colour of law for the leg sweep on Feb 6 that hospitalised Sureshbhai Patel, who had arrived from India six days earlier to move in with his engineer son.

Patel, who does not speak English, was taking a morning walk when a neighbour called police to report a suspicious person.

Parker and a trainee responded to the call. At one point, during a confused exchange, Parker slammed Patel to the ground, leaving him in need of emergency spinal surgery.

Prosecutors argued that Patel committed no crime, presented no threat and did not pull away and as such Parker’s actions were unreasonable.

Parker’s attorney has argued that Patel was reaching for his pockets and jerking away as officers frisked him, leaving officers to fear he might have a weapon.

Defence attorney Robert Tuten suggested that Patel by law should have had his green card on him at all times.

He also argued Madison didn’t provide adequate training for Parker and that while it was unfortunate that Patel was injured, he said the government did not prove Parker meant to hurt him.

“We can’t punish Officer Parker because there was a language barrier,” said Tuten.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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