MADISON, Alabama (AP) — A police officer has been charged with assault and will be fired after authorities say he badly injured an Indian man whom he stopped to question as the man was walking through his son’s neighborhood. The man has filed a lawsuit, and the FBI has opened an investigation.
The lawsuit filed by Sureshbhai Patel on Thursday claims that his injuries include partial paralysis. His son said his father had to undergo surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his spine. Hours after the suit was filed, Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey announced that Officer Eric Parker would be fired.
Last Friday, Parker responded to the neighborhood in response to a call about a suspicious person walking onto driveways and looking into garages, department officials said in a statement.
Parker and other officers stopped Patel, 57, and tried talking to him but he spoke little English, authorities said.
Officers tried patting Patel down but he put his hands in his pockets and pulled away, police said. A video released by police shows an officer throwing Patel to the ground. Later, after Patel was in cuffs, the video shows officers trying to lift him to his feet but Patel’s knees buckle and the officers help him back to the ground. Officers then try to clean him up, picking things off of his clothing. Patel was taken to a local hospital, police said.
When Patel was stopped, he told police “no English,” and repeated his son’s house number, family attorney Hank Sherrod told Al.com. Sherrod claims Patel was accosted because of his brown skin.
Chirag Patel has told local news media that his father has only been to America once before and is visiting to help care for his grandson while Chirag Patel pursues a graduate degree.
“He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time,” Patel told Al.com. “This is a good neighborhood. I didn’t expect anything to happen.” Patel said his father had to undergo surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his spine after being taken to the ground. Patel said his father is still unable to move his left leg.
Muncey said Patel committed no crime and that the department is asking for the community’s patience while it investigates.
No attorney was immediately listed for Parker.