(Reuters) - A U.S. grand jury has indicted an Alabama police officer, captured on video throwing an Indian man to the ground, on a civil rights charge stemming from the use of unreasonable force, federal prosecutors said on Friday.
Eric Parker, 26, then an officer with the Madison Police Department, was seen on video recorded from inside a patrol vehicle on Feb. 6 throwing Sureshbhai Patel, 57, to the ground after attempting to question him.
Patel, who speaks no English and moved to northern Alabama from India about two weeks before the incident to help his son's family care for a young child, was badly injured, said his lawyer, Henry Sherrod.
Sherrod applauded the one-count indictment handed down late on Thursday, which charges that Parker acted under the color of law to deny Patel's civil rights, and which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
"For the public to trust police officers, it needs to know officers will be held accountable," Sherrod said in a statement.
Patel last month filed a civil rights complaint against Parker, a second officer, and the city of Madison, alleging that race played a role in the incident.
According to the lawsuit, Patel was walking on the sidewalk outside his son's home at around 9 a.m. when police said they received a call about a suspicious person.
Patel told the officers who stopped him: "No English, Indian," and gave the house number for his son, the suit said.
Parker then threw Patel, who weighs 130 pounds, to the ground, according to the complaint.
Patel is in the process of regaining function in his hands and legs and only in the past few days has begun to walk with the help of a walker, Sherrod said.
Parker's attorney, Robert Tuten, said he had not yet seen the federal indictment but expected that his client would plead not guilty.
"Eric is being attacked from all sides," he said. "He doesn't believe that he's violated the law."
Parker was also charged in state court with misdemeanor assault, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The Madison Police Department released video of the incident and apologized for Parker's actions. It said it has recommended the officer's termination, which he is challenging.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans and Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla.; Editing by Will Dunham and Gunna Dickson)