The Madison, Alabama police officer responsible for brutally paralyzing a man’s father visiting from India has been arrested and the police chief is recommending he be fired for his actions.
According to the Washington Post, 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel had recently come to the U.S. in order to help care for his new grandson, who had been born premature. He wasn’t in the country long, however, before he got a rude welcome from the typical “ugly American” – Officer Eric Parker.
Patel was taking a short walk in his son’s neighborhood around 9 a.m. a few days after arriving in the country. Unaware that, like Bob Dylan sang in “Hurricane” a brown man “can’t show up on the streets ‘less he wants to draw the heat,” all seemed perfectly innocent to Patel – until Parker showed up and slammed him to the ground, partially paralyzing him from a harsh injury to the neck in the process. Apparently, Patel “looked suspicious’ to the local pale faces. He was alleged by one caller to be suspiciously looking into garages, the Huntsville Times reports.
Audio from the phone call that ultimately sicked Parker onto Patel describes him as a “skinny black guy” the caller guessed to be in his 30s. The anonymous caller said he’d “never seen him before” and that he was “just wandering around… walking close to the garage.” Like a Zimmerman clone, the caller also said he was following the unaware visitor from a distance. That same caller also showed his ridiculous fear by stating that he was “nervous” to leave his wife home alone with Patel walking around the neighborhood.
The exchange that followed as a result between Patel and Officer Parker entailed the following, and then some:
‘What’s going on sir?’
‘Where you heading?’
‘I can’t understand you, sir.’
‘Where’s your address?’
‘Do you have any ID?’
‘Do you live here.’
‘Sir, sir, come here.’
‘Do not jerk away from me again, or I will put you on the ground. Do you understand?’
The same incident can be seen from a different perspective in the below video:
After investigating the incident, the Madison Police Department decided the acting officer’s behavior “did not meet the high standards and expectations” the MPD had come to expect from its officers in the field. Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey personally made an apology to Patel, his family, and the larger community in the wake of the incident. Muncey also said that the FBI was in the midst of conducting a “parallel inquiry to ascertain if there were any federal violations. One FBI spokesperson stated that the bureau had gotten involved in the case immediately after the Feb. 6 incident. They are treating the investigation as a civil rights matter. All findings will be handed off for review to the Justice Department.
The family’s lawyer, Hank Sherrod, however, has filed a lawsuit Thursday with the federal court district on behalf of Patel, against the MPD, stating much the same as the FBI – that Patel’s civil rights had been violated. They are seeking the obvious damages they feel Patel is due as a result of the unfortunate encounter.
First, I’m hoping that the truth will come out, second that this case might bring to life the real issues we have in this country about the police abuse of power where someone can’t try to blame it on the victim. Here we’ve got someone who is truly blameless and innocent. He was brutalized, and hopefully will, but may never, walk again.
Chief Muncey claimed publicly Thursday that he is seeking Parker’s termination, beyond any charges that the officer may be convicted of since turning himself in for third degree assault. That same day, representatives from India’s government visited with Patel in the hospital, according to Sherrod.
Spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, stated Friday how “extremely disturbed” his government was over the incident. He also said the Indian government had “expressed its concern” in New Delhi to the local U.S. Embassy. Talks are currently being planned between officials in India, Washington and Alabama regarding the matter, as well.
We take the incident involving an Indian national very seriously. We want to make it abundantly clear we are extremely worried about what happened to Mr. Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian national.
Statements early on from police indicated that stronger force was necessary by the police because Patel kept trying to pull away from officers. As a result of that force, Patel was injured, by the police’s framing of that statement clearly pointed toward Patel as being responsible for his own injuries. However – surprise, surprise – Patel’s son, Chirag, claims it was police who escalated the incident, not the other way around.
Chirag Patel stated:
He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time. They put him to the ground.
Chirag Patel came to United States ten years prior in order to study engineering. He later married and eventually became a U.S. citizen.
This is a good neighborhood. I didn’t expect anything to happen.
There are two videos that caught most everything entailed in this ugly incident. They since been released by the MPD. Together, they include audio of the acting officers, as well as visual footage of the entire matter. One video shows officers questioning Patel, asking him where he’s going, where he resides, and whether they can see his identification. One of the officers states:
He’s saying, ‘No English.’
Another officer ignores that obvious statement and keeps right on questioning Patel in English. One of the questions he asked him was:
Are you looking at houses and stuff?
Everyone knows looking at houses is illegal in the U.S., right?
Despite the ignorance and arrogance exhibited by the officers, Sureshbhai Patel did his best to communicate with the officers once again by stating:
No English. Indian. Walking.
That’s all stated in Patel’s lawsuit, is that Patel repetitively stated his son’s address and kept pointing toward his son’s home.
This is about the time where one officer states:
Do not jerk away from me again. If you do, I’m gonna put you on the ground. Do you understand?
The officer then tells Patel to “relax,” but the officers should have all known well by then that Patel didn’t speak or understand English, so questioning him in English and then acting in violence against him when he does not respond appropriately is entirely unwarranted and out of line.
That doesn’t matter to many American police officers, though. If you don’t listen, if you don’t follow orders, they’ll f*ck you up without question. They know they can get away with it, and they don’t take any guff – even unintentionally.
Instead of listening to Patel’s statements that he doesn’t speak English, one officer opts to twist Patel’s arm behind his back and slam him to the ground, right onto his face. Patel was bloodied up pretty good as a result, but more importantly, his neck was injured pretty badly, and he was consequentially left paralyzed in his extremities, according to the lawsuit.
After Patel is on the ground, severely injured, one officer then tells him to “chill out” as a third officer approaches. One of the acting officers present from the start then underlines their comprehension that Patel doesn’t speak English, thereby rendering the entire episode out of line, by telling the approaching officer, he doesn’t “speak a lick of English.”
The officers then pat Patel down and go back to their alleged bafflement over the incident, stating:
I don’t know what his problem is, but he won’t listen.
Oh, could it be that he’s stated numerous times he doesn’t speak English, and hence, though listening, is simply unable to comprehend and follow commands?
The officers then show their great American “compassion” by leaving Patel on the ground as they phone for medical assistance. In the meantime, as they wait for paramedics to arrive, their compassion proves short-lived as the officers try repetitively to get Patel to get in their patrol car, stating:
Stand up, let’s go. You’re all right.
One of the officers seems to finally get a clue, then, asking:
As far as Sherrod is concerned, though, none of it was okay. Sherrod feels the train derailed from the moment a neighbor became suspicious of a man with brown skin walking around “their” neighborhood and decided to call police.
This is broad daylight, walking down the street. There is nothing suspicious about Mr. Patel other than he has brown skin…. This is just one of those things that doesn’t need to happen. That officer doesn’t need to be on the streets.
Talking with the Washington Post after a press conference Thursday, Sherrod said he is happy with the police for “doing the right thing on Thursday,” but was less than happy that the department had not owned responsibility for the matter sooner. Sherrod stated:
On Monday they were trying to blame Mr. Patel.
Since Patel underwent surgery in order to relieve spinal pressure, he has gained some sensation back in his arms and one of this legs. He does, however, still lack grip and strength in both of his arms, and his left leg is entirely paralyzed. Patel’s recovery could take several months, and there is not guarantee he will ever fully recover. Because Patel also does not have insurance, a fund has been established in his name to help cover expenses.
Unfortunately, the recent incident with his father has left Chirag Patel with second thoughts about purchasing his dream home in Madison, Alabama. He was thrilled to move there because of the great schools that would one day instruct his own son, but that seems like a relatively small perk under the shadow of what’s just happened to his father.
Patel stated regarding owning a home in Madison, Alabama in the aftermath of his father’s assault by local police officers:
It is a dream for me because I came from a very poor family and I worked so hard here. I’m totally devastated that I might have made a big mistake.
Who wouldn’t feel that way, considering? Can you blame him?
Let’s hope justice finds its way to former officer Eric Parker.