India concerned, family of man paralysed in US police 'brutality' to file lawsuit
The family of a 57-year-old Indian man, who was left partially paralysed after a police officer forced him on the ground in US, will file a lawsuit even as India expressed concerns over the police highhandedness against its national.
Sureshbhai Patel had come to the US two weeks ago to visit his son in a suburb of Huntsville, Alabama. He was left partially paralysed after a police officer forced him on ground after receiving report of a "suspicious person" looking into the garages of several homes.
Hank Sherrod, who is representing the Patel family, told AL.com that the officer escalated to violence with no provocation, forcing Sureshbhai to the ground face-first, leaving the grandfather bloody and partially paralysed.
Sherrod said Sureshbhai's family will file a lawsuit and indicated he was targeted primarily because of his ethnicity. The situation escalated due to his lack of familiarity with English.
The 57-year-old grandfather was walking down the sidewalk in the neighbourhood when he was stopped by the police last week. He was unable to respond to the questions asked by police except saying "no English" since he has little knowledge of the language and also put his hand in one of his pockets.
Sureshbhai's son Chirag Patel said, "Dad went for a walk in my community, where everybody walks and it is a sidewalk not any body's property. He did not know English. He tried to tell them in broken English that he's walking and his house no... still the police took him to ground."
"We have requested audio and visual recording from the police and they are refusing to provide that," he said.
According to Madison Police, Patel was questioned by police officers after receiving report of a "suspicious person" and wanted to search him. He was thrown to the ground during which he was injured.
Reacting strongly to reports of excessive force used by American police against Sureshbhai, India on Thursday raised the issue with the US and demanded expeditious investigation into the matter.
A senior official of the US embassy in New Delhi was called to the South Block by the external affairs ministry official in-charge of the Americas division to convey India's concern in the matter. The ministry expressed concern over what appears from media reports an excessive use of force by police.
India has also requested expeditious investigation and sharing of information about the probe and action taken, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
He had earlier said that Consulate General in Atlanta was in touch with police authorities in Madison and will provide all assistance to the family.
Several Indian-American organisations and rights bodies not only condemned the brutality against Sureshbhai as "police brutality" and "racial profiling", but also demanded action against the police officer involved in the incident.
"This incident is part of a pattern of racial profiling, surveillance and violence that South Asians often face at the hands of law enforcement and part of the broader reality of police brutality in this country directed against Black and Brown communities," Suman Raghunathan of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) alleged.
Patel is currently undergoing treatment for fused vertebrae.