A 57-year-old Indian grandfather, who had just moved to the United States to live with his son in Alabama, was reportedly roughed up so badly by a police officer while he went for a walk in his son’s neighborhood that he is now temporarily paralyzed and hospitalized with fused vertebrae.
Sureshbhai Patel and his wife had just moved in with their son, Chirag Patel, at his home in Madison, when the man reportedly went for a stroll through their suburban town. Patel says he was just walking around, the way he usually does, when a police officer allegedly stopped him and began questioning him, reports AL.com.
Madison Police had reportedly received a call from one of Patel’s neighbors complaining about a “suspicious-looking” man who was wandering around and peering in garages.
But Patel’s attorney, Hank Sherrod, says his client was only walking on the sidewalk in broad daylight and that there was nothing suspicious about him “other than he has brown skin.”
Patel, who arrived in the United States less than two weeks ago in order to help out his son with his 17-month-old baby while he pursues a master’s degree in electrical engineering, doesn’t speak English. He reportedly told police “no English” and repeated his son’s address to them, reports Al Jazeera America.
At one point, he reportedly put his hands in his pockets. Police say he then tried to pull away when officers attempted to frisk him -- something his attorney denies happened. That was when officers reportedly forced Patel to the ground face first and used excessive force that resulted in him lying bleeding from the face and paralyzed. Sherrod says the police left him there, even though he needed an ambulance.
When Patel was eventually taken to Madison Hospital, his son says he discovered him unable to move his legs and with limited motion in his arms. He suffered swelling of the spine and had to reportedly be transferred to Huntsville Hospital for surgery to fuse two vertebrae. Patel says he is unsure when his father will be well enough to be released from the hospital.
Capt. John Stringer, a spokesman for Madison Police, says there are audio and video recordings of the incident, but that these won’t be released to the public and will only be used in the investigation. The identities of the two police officers involved in the incident have not been released.
Sherrod says his clients plan to pursue legal action against the police department.