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Madison Police Officer Has New Court Date, North Alabama Lock to Reopen

Eric Parker
Brynn Anderson
Former Madison police officer Eric Parker

A court date has been set for a Madison police officer accused of slamming an Indian man to the ground.

Limestone County District Court records say a status conference in the assault case of 27-year-old Eric Parker is set for December 9th, as federal prosecutors plan a retrial on a civil rights charge.

Authorities say Parker slammed 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground February 6th. During the federal trial in Huntsville, Parker said Patel defied orders and resisted during a suspicious person investigation.

Patel said through an interpreter that he didn't resist and didn't understand officers' orders because he doesn't speak English. Patel was injured in the takedown.

Parker's federal case ended in a mistrial after the jury failed multiple times to come to a unanimous decision.

Several locks in north Alabama are scheduled to reopen to the public next month. The facilities had been closed for years due to security concerns.

The Guntersville, Wheeler and Pickwick locks were closed to the public after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. People used to be able to stand on top of the lock and watch the operation up close. That view was replaced by barricades and padlocked gates.

Lee Roberts is a public affairs officer with the Army Corps of Engineers’ Nashville district. He says the Corps needed to balance the security issues with public interest in the locks.

“We felt it was important that the public be able to have access to these, so that they do know how they’re being operated, and the importance of keeping them open for all the traffic that comes through.”

Roberts says each barge transporting goods through one of the Tennessee River’s locks keeps nearly eighty tractor-trailers off the highways. The three locks in north Alabama will be open to public access starting October 1.?

AT&T is creating a new safe driving campaign and the company wants Mobile area High School students to help out.

Today is the deadline for teenagers to submit thirty second public service announcements on the dangers of texting while driving. The winning entry will be part of AT&T’s campaign called “It Can Wait.”

AT&T Regional Director Gigi Armbrecht says there’s a reason the company wanted high school students to produce the videos.

“We’re looking for a message that will resonate with teens. Because, they’re some of the biggest offenders, but by far not the only ones. We figured the best way to get a  message across to kids was to ask kids to craft the message. So, that’s how it’s been working out.”

The winner of the contest will be announced on Friday. That day has been designated as National Pledge to Not Text and Drive Day.

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