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Experts set for trial of Alabama officer accused of abuse

June 12, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The federal trial of a north Alabama police officer accused of injuring an Indian man during a confrontation could become a battle of experts.

Court records show both prosecutors and the defense intend to present expert testimony in the trial of Eric Sloan Parker, set for Sept. 1 in Huntsville.

Prosecutors plan to present testimony from Parker’s boss, police Chief Larry Muncey of Madison, a Huntsville suburb. Documents show that Muncey is expected to testify that video recordings of the incident show Parker used excessive force.

“He will also opine, based on his training and expertise, that (Parker’s) actions were inconsistent with department policy and that (his) use of force in this instance did not adhere to prevailing police standards and training,” prosecutors wrote.

But a document filed this week show that the defense will call martial arts instructor Johnny Lee Smith, who is expected to testify that Parker was justified in using force against 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel (suh-RESH’-beye pah-TEL’) in February.

Smith, who will be presented as an expert in police training and defensive techniques, will testify that Parker didn’t appear to be trying to intentionally harm Patel, according to the defense document.

Parker, 26, has pleaded innocent to a federal charge of violating Patel’s civil rights.

Patel, who was visiting relatives from his native India, was walking in his son’s neighborhood when police responding to a call about a suspicious person stopped to question him. A police video captured an officer slamming the man to the ground.

Patel suffered what his attorney has described as partial paralysis and is recovering from injuries. He filed a civil lawsuit against Parker.

Parker is appealing his dismissal by the city of Madison, and he faces a state assault charge.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apologized to the Indian government for the treatment of Patel, calling it a case of “excessive force.”

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