The police officer, accused of assaulting a 57-year-old Indian man in the U.S. and leaving him partially paralyzed, has been arrested and a FBI probe ordered into the incident. The man’s family filed a lawsuit seeking compensation. A Press Trust of India report by Lalit K. Jha.
Larry Muncey, the Madison City Chief of Police while apologizing to the victim, Sureshbhai Patel, who was wrongfully assaulted by two police officers, without any provocation and just because he did not know English and was unable to answer to their questions, informed that Federal Bureau of Investigation will also be conducting a probe into the matter.
“I sincerely apologize to Mr. Patel, Mr. Patel’s family and our community. We strive to exceed expectations,” Muncey told reporters at a news conference.
“Additionally FBI would be conducting a parallel inquiry to ascertain if there were any federal violations,” Muncey said after releasing audio and videos related to the incident.
“As a result of the investigations, I found that Mr. (Eric) Parkers’s actions did not meet the high standard and expectations of the Madison City Police Department,” he said, adding that he has proposed termination of officer Parker, who has now been arrested for third-degree assault.
Meanwhile, Henry F. Sherrod, the attorney for the Patel family, filed a lawsuit in connection with the incident in the northern district court of Alabama. “We are seeking that Patel be fully compensated,” he said.
The incident occurred on the morning of February 6 when while walking down the sidewalk, Patel “was violently assaulted by a police official without provocation, and left partially paralyzed,” the 11-page lawsuit said.
A day before, Patel had arrived in the U.S. to assist his son and daughter-in-law in caring for their 17-month-old child, who was developmentally delayed after a premature birth.
In the video, Patel is seen walking quietly. He is not seen peeping at any of the houses or garage as the police was told in a non-emergency call it received from a neighbor.
Two police officers are seen approaching Patel and asking him questions – like name, address and identity card.
Patel is heard saying “No English” and pointing finger towards his son’s home. Soon one of the police officer, later identified as Parker, is seen violently throwing Patel on the ground and threatening him not to leave. It is at this time it appears Patel was paralyzed, apparently by shock.
With calls for action over the incident mounting, the U.S. government yesterday expressed condolences to Patel’s family but refrained to comment on any diplomatic discussion with India, which has taken up the issue with it.
“The Secretary (of State) and the State Department certainly express our strong condolences to the family for everything that he has been through,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
“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.
Sherrod indicated that the victim was targeted primarily because of his ethnicity. The situation escalated due to 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.
Patel is currently undergoing treatment for fused vertebrae.