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Eric Parker (CONTRIBUTED)

Appeals Court rules civil case against former Madison officer can move forward

MADISON – A civil rights lawsuit against a former Madison Police officer and the city of Madison can proceed, says an appeals court ruling.

The United States Court of Appeals 11th Circuit ruled the lawsuit filed against former officer Eric Parker and the city by Sureshbhai Patel should move forward with a jury

Patel alleges that Parker violated his civil rights during a 2015 police encounter that left him partially paralyzed.

Parker was responding to a call on Feb. 6, 2015 about a suspicious person walking along subdivision in Madison. He and other officers confronted Patel, who had recently moved from India to live his son at a home in the subdivision.

A caller who lived in the Hardiman Place subdivision off County Line Road placed a non-emergency 911 call to Madison Police, describing an individual walking around houses in the neighborhood and peering in garages. The caller said the person had been exhibiting the same behavior on the previous day.

It was then that Parker and his trainee were dispatched to the scene. Another officer arrived shortly thereafter in a separate car. When the officers reached Patel, he was on the street’s sidewalk.

As Parker spoke to Patel, a dash-cam video made public showed, it became apparent that Patel spoke no English. Parker asked him for I.D., where Patel lived and what his business was walking around the neighborhood.

Parker eventually performed a leg sweep that brought

Parker contends that Patel was resisting his attempts to stop and frisk him, prompting Parker to perform a leg sweep that brought Patel to the ground, causing him to hit his head and torso first. Patel contends that he was not resisting arrest and had done nothing wrong and that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment civil protection from excessive force.

Parker had asked a federal district court judge to grant him immunity from the lawsuit. The district court judge denied that request and ruled the case should move forward with a jury. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling.

Criminal charges against Parker were filed in state and federal court, where he was found not guilty. State charges were later dropped.

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