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Officer acquitted of civil rights charges returns to work

Associated Press Associated Press 6/09/2016

MADISON, Ala. — An Alabama police officer acquitted of federal civil rights charges arising from a video recording of an Indian man being slammed to the ground is returning to work.

Local news media report Madison police Officer Eric Parker was returning from leave Tuesday and would be assigned to a training unit until he completes required recertification.

Parker was recorded slamming Sureshbhai Patel, then 57, to the ground in February 2015. Patel was out for a walk in his son's suburban Huntsville neighborhood and was approached by police after a neighbor who called 911 reported a thin black man walking through the area looking at houses.

Parker has said Patel resisted him and that he and Patel both slipped as he tried to take him to the ground. Patel had said through an interpreter that he doesn't speak English and didn't understand Parker's orders. Patel was seriously injured in the fall, and a neurosurgeon who treated Patel after the encounter said the man suffered spinal trauma and that he removed a vertebrae to make room for the man's spine.

A judge acquitted Parker of federal civil rights charges in January after two trials ended with deadlocked juries. A state judge dismissed assault charges in May.

Parker appealed his dismissal from the force.

Major Jim Cooke, the acting chief, said in a letter sent to the department and posted by WHNT-TV (http://bit.ly/2cyByEQ ) that after reviewing all departmental and court documentation in the case, he found Parker didn't violate department policy.

Cooke is serving as acting chief because Chief Larry Muncey was put on leave after he was found guilty of contempt in April for talking to Parker's colleagues about their testimony in his first trial. He is appealing that ruling.

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