Washington, Mar 28: A US police officer, accused of using excessive force against a 57-year-old Indian leaving him partially paralysed, has been indicted on federal civil rights violation charges that carries imprisonment up to 10 years.
"A federal grand jury indicted Eric Parker, the police officer who threw Sureshbhai Patel to the ground resulting in him getting partially paralyzed, for deprivation of rights under color of law," said Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta and US Attorney in the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance in a two-page indictment.
Parker's actions deprived the victim of his right under the US Constitution to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, which includes the right to be free from unreasonable force by someone acting under color of law, the indictment said.
"Police officers are sworn to uphold the law and protect the public. The public must be able to trust the police. Law enforcement officers who violate their oath to protect and use excessive force must be brought to justice," Vance said.
Patel was brutally assaulted by Parker, who was in the company of two other police officers, on February 6 while he was on a walk in his neighborhood. He had arrived from India only a few days back to help his son and daughter-in-law with their newly-born baby. The case was investigated by the FBI.
Parker was suspended by the Madison Police days after the brutal assault on Patel. The Madison Police last month recommended that he be sacked. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley had apologized to the Indian government for the treatment of Patel, calling it a case of excessive use of force.
Patel's attorney Hank Sherrod said Patel and his family were very pleased by the "prompt and decisive action". "For the public to trust police officers, it needs to know officers will be held accountable and the felony civil rights charges filed against Parker, unlike the misdemeanor assault charge being pursued in state court, more accurately reflect the seriousness of Parker's conduct," he said.
However, Parker's attorney Robert Tuten expressed his surprise at the federal indictment. "Normally these thing take a little longer than that... He feels like he's being whaled on from all sides," Tuten said. Parker is also facing a third-degree assault charges. He has pleaded not guilty. The bench trial is scheduled for April 29.