Alabama policeman indicted for throwing Indian man to ground

Madison Police Department officer Eric Parker is shown in this booking photo provided by Limestone County Sheriff's Office in Athens, Alabama February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Limestone County Sheriff's Office/Handout

By Jonathan Kaminsky and Letitia Stein (Reuters) - A U.S. grand jury has indicted an Alabama police officer, captured on video throwing an Indian man to the ground, on a civil rights charge stemming from the use of unreasonable force, federal prosecutors said on Friday. Eric Parker, 26, then an officer with the Madison Police Department, was seen on video recorded from inside a patrol car on Feb. 6 throwing Sureshbhai Patel, 57, to the ground after attempting to question him. Patel, who speaks no English and moved to northern Alabama from India about two weeks before the incident to help his son's family care for a young child, was badly injured, said his lawyer Henry Sherrod. Sherrod applauded the one-count indictment handed down late on Thursday, which charges that Parker acted under the color of law to deny Patel's civil rights, and which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. "For the public to trust police officers, it needs to know officers will be held accountable," Sherrod said in a statement. In a separate case where advocates question the use of force by law enforcement, a Mississippi sheriff's deputy was arrested, officials said on Friday. The arrest came after a grand jury indicted Walter Grant of the Bolivar County Sheriff's Office on charges of manslaughter for shooting a suspect in the head in 2013 as he was resisting arrest. In the Alabama case, Patel last month filed a civil rights complaint against Parker, a second officer, and the city of Madison, alleging racism. Patel was walking on the sidewalk outside his son's home around 9 a.m. when police said they received a call about a suspicious person. Patel told the officers who stopped him: "No English, Indian," the suit said. Parker then threw Patel, who weighs 130 pounds, to the ground, according to the complaint. Patel is slowly regaining function in his hands and legs and recently began walking with the help of a walker, Sherrod said. Parker's attorney, Robert Tuten, expected that his client would plead not guilty. "Eric is being attacked from all sides," he said. "He doesn't believe that he's violated the law." Parker was also charged in state court with misdemeanor assault, to which he has pleaded not guilty. The Madison Police Department released video of the incident and apologized for Parker's actions. It said it has recommended the officer's termination, which he is challenging. (Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans and Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla.; editing by Will Dunham and Gunna Dickson)