Man for Gujarat partially paralyzed after excessive use of force by the police in the US
GN Bureau | February 12, 2015
In an unusually quick and angry response after recent Modi-Obama bonhomie, the government on Thursday summoned an official in the US embassy to the external affairs ministry and demanded expeditious investigation into the February 6 incident of excessive use of force by American police against an Indian national.
Sureshbhai Patel, 57, who was visiting his son in Alabama, was left partially paralysed when a police officer forced him on ground after receiving report of a "suspicious person" looking into the garages of several homes.
According to his lawyers, a police officer indulged in violence with no provocation, forcing Patel to the ground face-first, leaving him partially paralysed. Patel is currently undergoing treatment for fused vertebrae. His family is planning to file a lawsuit.
On Thursday morning, the senior official of the US embassy in New Delhi met the official incharge of the Americas division. He was conveyed India's concern about the excessive use of force by police.
External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said “Consulate General in Atlanta in touch with Madison police chief and providing all necessary consular assistance."
Patel's family said he was walking down the sidewalk in the neighbourhood when he was stopped by the police. Since he did not know English, he was unable to respond to the questions asked by police except for saying "no English" and in between he put his hand in one of his pockets.
On January 31, Suresh Patel arrived in the US from Gujarat to be with his son, Chirag, and daughter-in-law. Chirag’s 17-month old son, Ayaan, was born prematurely and had been experiencing some medical issues. This wasn’t Suresh Patel’s first visit to the United States. He had gone to the US after Ayaan was born. But this was his first visit to his son’s new home in a Madison subdivision off County Line Road.
Chirag, who worked full-time and was studying for his master’s degree in electrical engineering, had given up his classes to help his wife with the baby.
Six days after his arrival to help support his son, he faced the situation faced by many coloured people in the US. On February 6, Chirag left for work at 7 am. A short time later, his father went out for a walk. At 9.42 am, Chirag received a message from Madison Hospital asking him to call the emergency room. There he found his father seriously injured.
Chirag says his father explained he was walking down the sidewalk on the family’s street when three Madison police officers approached and began questioning him. Sureshbhai, who speaks only a few English words, reportedly said “No English. Indian. Walking.” He claims he gave his son’s house number, pointing in the direction of the family’s home.
That’s when the Patel’s say one of the officers grabbed Sureshbhai’s arm, wrenched it behind his back and forced him to the ground. His face hit the ground. His neck was injured and he reported having no feeling in his arms or legs. He was rushed to Madison Hospital, then transferred to Huntsville Hospital.
His family says he underwent cervical fusion surgery the next day and has since regained some feeling in his arms and one leg, although he is still partially paralyzed. They say doctors expect recovery to take months.
Madison Police say while they were trying to speak with Sureshbhai Patel, he put his hands in his pockets. When they tried to pat him down, he pulled away. That’s when police say the officer forced him to the ground and he was injured. The officer has been put on administrative leave and a investigation is in progress.
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