MADISON, Alabama (AP) — A family is planning to file a lawsuit after a relative visiting from India was injured during an encounter with police.
Police officers were responding to a call last Friday morning about a suspicious person walking onto driveways and looking into garages, department officials said in a statement. Officers stopped Sureshbhai Patel, 57, and tried talking to him but he spoke little English, authorities said.
Officers tried patting Patel down but he put his hands in his pockets and pulled away, police said. Patel was injured as he was forced to the ground and was taken to a local hospital, police said.
Watch a report on the man’s condition from Alabama’s WHNT below:
Chirag Patel has told local news media that his father has only been to America once before and is visiting to help care for his grandson while Chirag Patel pursues a graduate degree.
“He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time,” Patel told Al.com. “This is a good neighborhood. I didn’t expect anything to happen.” Patel said his father had to undergo surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his spine after being taken to the ground. Patel said his father is still unable to move his left leg.
Attorney Hank Sherrod said the family plans to file a lawsuit. When Patel was stopped, he told police “no English,” and repeated his son’s house number, Sherrod told Al.com.
The use of force is under investigation and the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, police said. Video and audio recordings of the encounter are part of the internal affairs investigation and have not been released, Capt. John Stringer was quoted by Al.com as saying.
Madison Police Chief Larry R. Muncey said he is also concerned about the encounter and the department is asking for the community’s patience while it investigates.
Rajan Zed, president of the nonprofit Universal Society of Hinduism based in Reno, Nevada, released a statement Wednesday calling for emergency responders in Alabama to receive cultural competency training. He said encounters like Patel’s could be avoided if Americans worked to better understand each other.
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