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Retrial of Alabama Cop Who Partially Paralyzed Indian Grandfather Begins

by Chris Fuchs /

Opening statements were made after a jury was seated Tuesday in the retrial of an Alabama police officer accused of throwing an Indian man to the ground and leaving him partially paralyzed following a street encounter in February.

The first witness will be called to testify Wednesday morning, according to NBC affiliate WSFA 12 News.

The jury consists of three men and 11 women; two of the 14 are alternates, WSFA 12 News reported.

U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala in Huntsville Alabama, did not permit reporters into the courtroom for a second day during jury selection in the retrial of Eric Parker, who is charged with violating the civil rights of 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel. The reason given to media was that there was no space in the courtroom, WSFA 12 News reported.

Image: Sureshbhai Patel
Chirag Patel helps his father, Sureshbhai Patel, out of the car as they arrive outside the federal courthouse before start of a trial against Madison, Ala., police Officer Eric Sloan Parker, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Huntsville, Ala.Brynn Anderson / AP

Later on Tuesday, however, Haikala reportedly allowed journalists in after attorneys for WHNT News 19, a station in Huntsville, made a written request to the judge asking her to reconsider her decision, according to WHNT.com.

This follows a ruling Haikala handed down Monday prohibiting media from live blogging or tweeting from the courtroom as was done in the first trial, which ended in a hung jury.

Parker is accused of using excessive force against Patel after responding to a 911 call in Madison, Alabama, reporting a suspicious black man on the street. Patel was visiting from India and was out for a morning walk when he was stopped by Parker.

A police car dash cam captured the Feb. 6 incident which shows Parker using force against Patel, slamming him to the ground. Parker has said he brought down Patel because he was resisting officers and reached toward his pockets, a claim Patel denied through an interpreter. In the first trial, Parker testified in his own defense, saying he lost his balance during the encounter and wasn’t trying to hurt Patel.

A mistrial was declared on Sept. 11 in the first trial after a jury could not reach a verdict. Parker is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, an offense that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

In a statement Monday, national civil rights organization South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), said: “It is our hope that today's retrial is heard before a jury that truly represents the population of Madison, AL where one in ten residents speaks a language other than English at home.”

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