Indian man paralyzed after Alabama cop body-slams him for walking in wealthy white suburb
Police officers seriously injured a 57-year-old Indian man they stopped after a neighbor reported him acting suspiciously while walking near his son’s Alabama home.
The man’s son, Chirag Patel, said officers threw his father to the ground during questioning, leaving him partially paralyzed and hospitalized with fused vertebrae,reported AL.com.
Madison police said a neighbor called shortly before 9:30 a.m. Friday to report a man he didn’t recognize was walking into driveways and looking in garages as he walked around the residential neighborhood.
Two officers approached Sureshbhai Patel, a farmer from the small Indian town of Pij, and patted him down, and they said the man repeatedly told them he spoke no English and pointed toward his son’s house nearby.
Patel’s son said his father speaks only Gujarati and some Hindi, and police officers noted a “communication barrier” in their statement about the incident.
One of the officers suddenly grabbed the elder Patel’s arm, pulled it behind him, and threw him face-first to the ground, said the family’s attorney.
“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.”
The attorney said officers needlessly escalated the encounter and left the man lying bleeding and temporarily paralyzed on the sidewalk.
“This is broad daylight, walking down the street — there is nothing suspicious about Mr. Patel other than he has brown skin,” said attorney Hank Sherrod.
The elder Patel has limited motion in his arms and left leg, but his right leg remains paralyzed, and he had surgery to fuse two vertebrae due to swelling in his spine.
Patel’s son, who brought him to the U.S. to help his wife care for their 17-month-old son while he studies for a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, said he fears he made a terrible mistake by inviting his father to his home in the mostly white and affluent Huntsville suburb.
“This is a good neighborhood,” said the younger Patel, who came to the U.S. a decade ago to study and has been a citizen since 2012. “I didn’t expect anything to happen.”
The officer who threw Patel to the ground was suspended, and the use of force is under investigation.
Police wished Patel, who was not charged or cited with any crime, a “speedy recovery.”