US & Canada

Police officer acquitted in 'assault' on Indian grandfather Sureshbhai Patel

Sureshbhai Patel in Hospital in Alabama in this undated family handout photo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sureshbhai Patel's family said he had to have surgery to fuse two vertebrae

A federal judge in the US has acquitted a policeman who was charged over a serious assault on an Indian man.

Judge Madeline Haikala threw out the case against Eric Parker after his two previous trials ended in hung juries.

CCTV footage last year showed a confrontation between 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel and two officers in an Alabama suburb.

Mr Patel was thrown to the ground, an incident which he says left him partially paralysed.

In her 92-page opinion District Judge Haikala said evidence presented during Madison police officer Eric Parker's two trials did not eliminate the reasonable doubt that the policeman was guilty of a crime.

"The court has no reason to expect a different result in a subsequent trial given the totality of the evidence that the parties have provided," Ms Haikala wrote.

The footage from police cameras last February shows Mr Patel - who speaks no English - trying to walk away from the officers, who eventually shove him to the ground.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Parker told jurors that Mr Patel's actions and appearance were like those of a burglar
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Media captionDashcam footage shows police officers approaching Mr Patel, before pushing him to the ground.

Mr Parker had told jurors that Mr Patel's actions and appearance were "in sequence'" with those of a burglar.

He said Mr Patel tried walking away and wouldn't answer questions when officers approached him, and that he was suspicious when the man reached for his pockets and when he pulled one of his hands free during a pat-down.

Mr Patel had recently arrived in the US to help care for his grandson, who was born prematurely, when the incident took place.

He was walking outside his son's home when police said they received a call from a neighbour about a suspicious person.

According to the civil rights complaint filed in court, Mr Patel told the police officers who stopped him "no English, Indian", and gave his son's house number.

A police officer then threw him abruptly to the ground, injuring him seriously, the complaint said.

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Media captionMr Patel's family spoke to the BBC in November after the second mistrial.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC in November 2015, Mr Patel's son Chirag told the BBC that things had been difficult for his Dad since the incident. "Slowly he's making progress and getting independence. But still he's not 100% and we don't know if he's going to get 100%."

But he added that while he wanted justice his family would accept whatever decision the judge made. He said his view of America has not changed.

"It was a land of opportunity, and it still is a land of opportunity. America has changed my life in a positive way. So my views are not changed because of this one incident with my Dad."

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