HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 21 (UPI) -- An Alabama police officer on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to violating the rights of an Indian man who was left partially paralyzed after an encounter with law officials.
Eric Parker, 26, entered a not guilty plea for one count of violating the rights of 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel, a native of Gujarat, India, in U.S. District Court in Huntsville, Ala.
An indictment filed March 27 accused Parker of depriving Patel of the right to be free from unreasonable seizures, including the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force.
The Feb. 6 confrontation between Parker and Patel was captured on a dashboard camera on a police cruiser.
A neighbor told Madison, Ala., police that Patel, a man the witness had never seen in the area before, was walking onto people's properties and peering into garages. Two police units and three officers responded to the call, approached Patel and attempted to communicate with him. A family attorney said Patel, who speaks no English, tried to get the officers to understand that he was staying with his son in the area, but was unsuccessful.
The officers said that during a routine pat-down, Patel attempted to pull away and was then physically forced to the ground. The show of force left him with a severe neck injury that required surgery and left him partially paralyzed.
Parker was arrested one week after the incident and also faces a misdemeanor count of assault, which carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. Should he be convicted on the federal felony charge, Parker would face up to 10 years in prison.
After entering his plea Tuesday, Parker was released on $5,000 bond. His trial is scheduled to begin July 1.