New York (IANS): An Indian national was temporarily paralyzed and hospitalized with fused vertebrae after police in the US state of Alabama roughed him up last week when he was walking on the sidewalk outside his son’s home, media reported.
“He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time,” Alabama news portal al.com quoted his son, Chirag Patel, as saying Tuesday. “They put him to the ground.”
The 57-year-old Indian citizen, who came from a small town in Gujarat to visit his son, committed no crime.
Madison Police Monday issued a statement saying the department had suspended the officer and were investigating the use of force in this case.
The statement wished the man a “speedy recovery”.
Chirag Patel, an engineer, said he had just bought a one-way ticket for his father to his new home in the fast growing suburbs of Madison.
He said his father, Sureshbhai Patel, was to help his wife care for their new baby, a 17-month-old son, so he could pursue his masters degree in electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
“This is a good neighbourhood. I didn’t expect anything to happen,” said Chirag Patel, who recently bought the new house.
The police statement issued Monday said they received a call Friday about a man looking into garages among the brick homes just south of the city’s new high school.
“The caller, who lives in the neighbourhood did not recognise the subject and thought him to be suspicious,” the statement said.
Hank Sherrod, attorney for the family, Tuesday said the man was not walking on other people’s property nor looking in garages.
“This is broad daylight, walking down the street. There is nothing suspicious about Patel other than he has brown skin,” said Sherrod.
But Sureshbhai Patel does not speak English, this being only his second trip to the US. He had arrived less than two weeks ago.
The statement by Madison police refers to a “communication barrier”. Chirag Patel said his father speaks only Gujarati, and some Hindi.
Sherrod said Sureshbhai Patel told the police officers “no English” and repeated his son’s house number.
The statement said the officer attempted to frisk the man.
“The subject began putting his hands in his pockets,” reads the police statement. “Officers attempted to pat the subject down and he attempted to pull away. The subject was forced to the ground, which resulted in injury.”
Sherrod said he spoke with Sureshbhai Patel at Huntsville Hospital Tuesday. He said there were two officers present and that he was patted down and did not pull away.
One officer then pulled Sureshbhai Patel’s arm up behind him and slung him face first into the ground and he could not say what happened after that, the attorney said.
Sureshbhai Patel was taken by ambulance to Madison Hospital and the staff there called his son at work Friday. Chirag Patel found his father at the hospital unable to move his legs and with limited motion in his arms.
From there, due to swelling in the spine, the victim was transferred to Huntsville Hospital for surgery to fuse two vertebrae and he remained hospitalised. The son said his father can now move his right leg a little bit, but the left remains paralysed. He said his father can raise both arms, but cannot make a tight grip.
According to Chirag, his father had no health problems prior to this incident.