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US policeman leaves Indian partially paralysed

By Lalit K Jha
February 11, 2015 13:48 IST
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A 57-year-old Indian man has been partially paralysed in the US when a police officer forced him on ground after receiving report of a “suspicious person” looking into the garages of several homes.

Sureshbhai Patel had come to the US two weeks ago to stay with his son in a suburb of Huntsville, Alabama.

Last week, while walking down the sidewalk in the neighbourhood 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.

The policeman on duty forced him on the ground, injuring Patel, who is now partly paralysed and undergoing treatment in a hospital.

The policeman responsible for injuring Patel has been sent on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

“The Madison Police Department takes all use of force incidents seriously and reviews them as a matter of policy. The use of force involved in this incident has been referred to the Office of Professional Standards for investigation,” the police said in a statement.

The incident took place on February 6, when it received a complaint of a suspicious person walking onto driveways and looking into garages.

The caller, who lives in the neighbourhood did not recognise Patel and thought him to be suspicious.

Officers arrived in the area and made contact with a person matching that description.

Patel, did not appear to speak English and there was a communication barrier, the police said, adding that the grandfather began putting his hands in his pockets.

“Officers attempted to pat the subject down and he attempted to pull away. The subject was forced to the ground, which resulted in injury,” the police said.

“Patel was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time,” his son, Chirag Patel, an engineer who works in Huntsville, told a local daily. Chirag said his father speaks only Gujarati and Hindi.

Patel had no health problems prior to this incident. A local attorney is planning to sue the Madison police on behalf of Chirag.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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