Washington, Oct 31: A US court conducting the retrial of an American police officer accused of violently assaulting a 58-year-old Indian man has asked once again to watch the video showing the incident which left the grandfather partially paralysed.
"It's not only police lives that matter. All lives matter. The defence says the community must respect police, but the police must earn the respect of the community," Assistant US Attorney Robert Posey said yesterday during the trial of former police officer Eric Parker charged with using excessive force against Sureshbhai Patel earlier this year.
The jury asked to once again watch the video of Parker taking Patel to the ground, the same video seen many times around the country and across India.
But the jury specifically asked to see the video on Monday, Al.com reported. Parker faces 10 years imprisonment if convicted. He faces a single charge of deprivation of rights under colour of law for the sidewalk takedown on February 6 that left Patel in need of spinal surgery.
Under the federal civil rights charge, the jury must not only find Parker deprived Patel of the right to be free from unreasonable force, but the jury must also find Parker acted wilfully. Basically, he had to intend to violate Patel's rights on that cold Friday morning.
The call from a neighbour about a suspicious person in the neighbourhood alleged only - "Walking, standing, looking. None of these are crimes," Posey told the jury.
"This officer is saying he had to do this because of his safety just doesn't make sense," said Posey, arguing that walking away from officers is not evidence a suspect is armed.
Patel was not armed. Parker changed his story after he realised he could not "stand him up and brush him off." He began to develop a reason for the stop, asking a dispatcher for help identifying crimes in the area for probable cause that suggests Parker knew what he did was wrong, Posey said.
Robert Tuten said "All Mr. Patel had to do was stop." If Patel had shown officers some identification, they would have written a report and sent him on his way. Police are obligated to investigate calls from neighbours concerned about someone suspicious in the area. Patel didn't speak English and didn't understand the officers' questions.
There was no way Parker could know this was a "harmless Indian grandfather walking down Hardiman Place Lane." Police must face the unknown at personal risk. "Quite frankly these jobs are so hard I don't know why anybody would want to be a police officer," Tuten said, adding that a language barrier doesn't give Patel the right to resist a pat down or refuse to take his hands from his pockets.
Posey offered final rebuttal to the jury which asked to see the video on Monday. The jury will reconvene on Monday. Patel was visiting his son in Alabama to meet his newly born grandson when the incident took place.