Defense lawyers representing an Alabama police officer who stands accused of violating the rights of a 57-year-old man blamed the victim in court today. During opening statements, attorney Robert Tuten told jurors that the officer’s brutal attack on the man was on his own fault. He stated that Sureshbhai Patel, a native of India, had no business coming to the United States if he doesn’t know how to speak the language.
Mr. Patel was body-slammed by Madison, Alabama police officer, Eric Parker, in February. The assault left him partially paralyzed.
As Addicting Info reported in February, Officer Parker approached Patel after the a 911 caller racially profiled him. The caller reported seeing “a really skinny black guy,” with “a toboggan on.” Even though the caller said Mr. Patel was “just walking,” he also reported being “afraid to go to work and leave his wife at home alone.”
Mr. Patel came to the United States from India, where he worked as a farmer all of his life. He was brought to the country by his son, Chirag Patel, a U.S. citizen who is employed by a defense contractor, as a software engineer, in Huntsville. He brought his father to the United States after his baby was born prematurely, because he and his wife needed help caring for the child.
According to Parker’s defense attorney, Mr. Patel had it coming. He’s not paralyzed today because the cop brutalized him without cause. In fact, the entire thing is his own fault.
The Associated Press reports that Tuten told the jury “anyone who comes to the United States is expected to follow the law and speak the dominant language.” He then added, “We speak English here.”
Prosecutors called Charles Spence to the stand. Spence is a 20 year veteran of the police force, with 15 years as a Field Training Officer.
“Spence said Parker used a standard takedown move, the “front leg sweep” taught in the police academy. Spence said it’s used when a subject is being combative, but he didn’t observe Patel being combative. He also said this type of takedown is “high risk” and he wouldn’t have handcuffed him in this circumstance.
Prosecutors asked Spence if he saw anything that would have caused him to lay hands on Mr. Patel. “No sir, I didn’t,” Officer Spence replied.
The defense asked Spence about the language barrier officers encounter in the field. Spence said police come in contact with non-English speaking residents about once a month, usually Spanish speakers.”
YES, police are expected to know how to work with immigrants and visitors to the United States, and NO, those people are not required to “speak English here.”
The statements made by the Eric Parker’s defense attorney are appalling and infuriating.
Not knowing the language is not a crime. Not speaking English is not a reason for police to put you in the hospital for months on end.
But claiming in open court that this kind of brutality is the victim’s fault, simply because he doesn’t speak English, should be more than enough reason for a jury to find Parker guilty of a whole list of civil rights violations.