3:29 pm - Saturday November 7, 2015

Family of Indian paralysed in police action in U.S. will file lawsuit

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The family of the 57-year-old Indian man, who has been left partially paralysed after a police officer forced him on ground in the United States, will file a lawsuit with many rights organisations terming the incident as “police brutality” and “racial profiling”.

Several Indian-American organisations and rights bodies not only condemned the brutality against Sureshbhai Patel, who was visiting his son in Alabama, but also demanded action against the police official whose aggression last week has left him paralysed.

Mr. Patel had come to the US two weeks ago to stay with his son in a suburb of Huntsville, Alabama.

Last week, while walking down the sidewalk in the neighbourhood he was stopped by the police. Since he did not know English, he was unable to respond to the questions asked by police except for saying “no English” and in between he 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 he told his house no… still police took him to ground.”

“We have requested audio and visual recording from the police and they are refusing to provide that,” he said.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that Consulate General in Atlanta was in touch with police authorities and will provide all assistance.

“Consulate General in Atlanta in touch with Madison police chief and providing all necessary consular assistance,” he said.

Hank Sherrod, who is representing the Patel family, told AL.com that the officer escalated to violence with no provocation, forcing Mr. Patel to the ground face-first, leaving the grandfather bloody and partially paralysed.

Mr. Sherrod said Mr. Patel’s family will file a lawsuit. He has indicated that the victim was targeted primarily because of his ethnicity. The situation escalated due to Mr. Patel’s lack of familiarity with English.

“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.

Mr. Patel is currently undergoing treatment for fused vertebrae.

According to Madison Police, Mr. 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.

“This attack on an individual who had committed no crime is unfortunately consistent with the continued pattern of aggression shown by police officers in the Tamar Rice and the Eric Garner cases,” said Samir Kalra, senior director for human rights at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).

“While the Madison police department acted appropriately in suspending the officer involved, it still faces serious questions about how this tragedy could have occurred,” he said.

Acknowledging its mistake, the Madison Police Department has ordered an investigation into the incident. The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave till the investigation is complete.

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