Alabama cop held for assaulting 57-year-old Indian man

13 February 2015

An Alabama policeman who assaulted a 57-year-old Gujarati man has been arrested, six days after the brutal incident sent shockwaves among the Indian community.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) meanwhile will be conducting a probe into the matter to find out if there were any federal violations in the incident.

Meanwhile, the family of the Indian man yesterday filed a lawsuit seeking compensation.

Larry Muncey, the Madison City chief of police, apologised to victim Sureshbhai Patel, who was wrongfully assaulted by two police officers without any provocation just because he did not know English and was unable to answer their questions, and added that the FBI would also be conducting a probe into the matter.

"I sincerely apologise to Patel, 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 Parker'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.

On Thursday, 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 6 February when while walking down the sidewalk, Patel "was violently assaulted by a police official without provocation, and left partially paralysed," the 11-page lawsuit said.

A day before, Patel had arrived in the US 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 garages as the police was told in a non-emergency call it received from a neighbourhood resident.

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 paralysed, apparently by shock.

With calls for action over the incident mounting, the US government has expressed condolences to Patel's family but refrained from commenting on any diplomatic discussion with India, which has taken up the issue.

"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.

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