SURESHBHAI PATEL DENIED JUSTICE IN SECOND MISTRIAL
TAINTED BY XENOPHOBIA
The South Asian Bar Association of North America (“SABA North America”) expresses concern and disappointment after a second mistrial was declared in the case of Eric Parker, the Alabama police officer accused of assaulting and partially paralyzing Sureshbhai Patel. Particularly disappointing is the message that constitutional violations against people of color will not be punished and the lack of accountability for state actors is being repeated with unfortunate frequency of late.
As immigrants and individuals of South Asian heritage, we are especially disturbed as we see ourselves, our parents and our grandparents in Mr. Patel – a grandfather out for a morning walk outside his son’s home. As legal professionals, we understand that the burden of proof on the prosecution in a civil rights case is high. But instead of a trial focused on the use of force by Parker, we are left with a defense attorney blaming the victim for his paralysis due to his race and language proficiency.
Defense attorney Robert Tuten’s xenophobic statement: “When you come to the U.S. we expect you to follow our laws and speak our language. Mr. Patel bears as much responsibility for this as anyone,” shocks the conscience of not just South Asian Americans but all immigrants and people of color.
SABA North America will continue to monitor the developments in this case and encourages the Department of Justice to trust in the weight of the evidence and strength of its prosecution to seek justice for Mr. Patel through a third trial. SABA North America hopes that such a trial will not be tainted with inappropriate or prejudicial comments.