We are generally pro cop at GOTR. That said, when a cop screws up, we also expect him to face justice. Today, we have an example of a cop taking things too far.
Officer Eric Parker of the Madison, Alabama Police Department has been arrested for his actions against 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel who Parker was attempting to detainin while investigating a report of suspicious activity. Patel was seriously injured and the incident has stirred the usual pot of racial issues surrounding police use of force.
Patel had only been in the US for a week and was coming to live with his son to help look after his grandchild while the son attended graduate school. Patel left his son’s home to explore the new neighborhood. A neighbor, having seen Patel walking down the street, looking at other houses at least one day prior, called police to report a suspicious person.
Parker, a field training officer, and his trainee, Andrew Slaughter, were dispatched, spotted Patel, and detained him. Parker can be heard talking to Patel on the dash cam. Patel speaks little or no English so there’s was a language barrier that might make it difficult or impossible for Patel to understand Parker’s instructions or answer his questions. Parker and Slaughter move to detain Patel who does try to continue walking away but, the officers stop him. Parker repeatedly warns Patel not to move away from him as he and Slaughter attempt to handcuff Patel. Parker warns Patel again, “Do not jerk away from me again, or I will put you on the ground. Do you understand?” Patel is then thrown to the ground just as a second unit, driven by Charles Spence, arrived on scene.
Patel couldn’t break his fall while his hands were restrained so he fell face first onto the ground. He was unable to move afterward and doctors have since said he would require cervical fusion. He remains in a Huntsville hospital and is still unable to move one leg. Parker has since been arrested for 3rd degree assault which, in Alabama, is a misdemeanor. Typically, assualts ending in permanent injury result in felony charges rather than a misdemeanor but, it would be difficult to prove Parker had any specific malicious intent to injure Patel.
A statement from Madison, AL Police Chief Larry Muncey reads as follows:
The Madison Police Department has now completed its internal Office of Professional Standards investigation and would like to release sections of the audio and video files associated with Mr. Patel’s incident.
Field Training Officer Eric Parker and his Trainee, Andrew Slaughter, were dispatched to the scene (car 1).
Officer Charles Spence was also dispatched (car 2).
As a result of the Office of Professional Standards investigation, I found that Officer, Eric Parker’s actions did not meet the high standards and expectations of the Madison City Police Department.
For that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Patel, his family and our community…our desire is to exceed everyone’s expectations.
Today, Mr. Parker was served with proposed disciplinary action according to the Madison City policy and procedures…I recommended termination.
Mr. Parker was arrested today by the Madison Police Department for Assault in the Third Degree. He surrendered himself to Limestone County.
In addition, the FBI is conducting a parallel inquiry to ascertain if there were any Federal Violations.