Ala. Gov to India: Sorry for Paralyzing Tourist

Officer Eric Parker pleads not guilty to assault
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2015 10:40 AM CST

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has apologized to the government of India for "the unfortunate use of excessive force" that left an Indian man partially paralyzed and in need of spinal surgery, reports. Officer Eric Parker allegedly slammed Sureshbhai Patel, 57, to the ground while he walked in Madison, where he was visiting his son and helping look after his grandson. "I deeply regret" the action and "the injuries sustained by Mr. Patel," Bentley wrote in a letter to Consul General Ajit Kumar in Atlanta. "I sincerely hope that Mr. Patel continues to improve and that he will regain full use of his legs." Parker, 26, who was fired following the incident, pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault in writing yesterday. A bench trial is scheduled for April, reports.

"We will see that justice is done arising from the use of excessive force under color of state law upon a citizen of India," Bentley continued in the letter. Though the FBI is already investigating, Bentley also called on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to review the incident. Patel has since been moved from a hospital to a rehabilitation center, where his lawyer says he is recovering but still unable to walk, the Times of India reports. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $190,000 for his recovery. Meanwhile, Patel's lawyer has filed a federal lawsuit claiming Madison police used excessive force and weren't authorized to search Patel. He says the incident wasn't race related but is instead "about police abuse of power and police accountability." (Read more Alabama stories.)

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