MADISON, Alabama (AP) — The Indian government is “extremely disturbed” by the treatment of a 57-year-old grandfather from that country who was severely roughed up by police while walking in a suburban neighborhood in Alabama, a spokesman said Friday.
Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry, said the government took the incident “very seriously” and was in contact with the U.S. mission in New Dehli.
The government also will contact officials in Washington and Alabama, Akbaruddin said in response to reporters’ questions in New Dehli about the treatment of Sureshbhai Patel in the city of Madison.
“What we will communicate is that we are extremely disturbed,” he said. “This is a matter of concern for us, and India and the U.S. as open pluralist societies need to address these issues and find ways in a mature manner so that these are aberrations and are not the norm.”
Madison police officer Eric Parker was arrested and is being fired after Patel was slammed to the ground and injured while visiting relatives in the town. An attorney for Patel said the man suffered partial paralysis in the incident but hopes for a full recovery.
The officer has not commented publicly and court records are not yet available to show whether he has a lawyer.
Police stopped Patel while he was walking on a sidewalk in his son’s neighborhood on Feb. 6. Patel’s attorney, Hank Sherrod, claims the man was accosted because of his dark brown skin.
Patel, who suffered injuries including partial paralysis of his legs, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming his civil rights were violated. The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money.
Dashcam video and audio recordings of emergency dispatch calls released by the Madison Police Department showed that a man called police complaining that an unfamiliar man was walking in the neighborhood and peering toward garages.
Police arrived in patrol cars within minutes. Video shot from inside one of the cruisers shows two officers approaching the man on the sidewalk and attempting to talk to him.
With country music playing audibly on the car’s radio in the video recording, two officers approach the man on foot.
“What’s going on, sir?” asks one of the officers. “You’re what? India?”
Police pepper the man with questions about what he is doing and where he is going, but any answers are inaudible and someone on the recording is heard saying, “no English.” Patel appears to try to walk away and one of the officers warns: “Do not jerk away from me again.”
One of the officers, neither of whom is identified, then slams Patel face-first into the ground less than 90 seconds after the confrontation began.
“He don’t speak a lick of English,” one of the officers says as another officers arrives at the scene.