Madison, Ala., police are accused of injuring an Indian man who was taking a walk outside the home of his son, whom he was visiting from his small town in India, AL.com reports. Sureshbhai Patel was reportedly rendered partly paralyzed and remains hospitalized after having two vertebrae fused.
"He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time," his son, Chirag Patel, told the news site. "They put him to the ground."
On Monday the Madison Police Department released a statement saying that the officer had been suspended and the incident was being investigated, and wishing Patel a "speedy recovery."
Chirag Patel, who is an engineer for a government contractor in Huntsville, Ala., had bought his father a one-way ticket from Pij, India, to Madison so that the older man could help his wife with their 17-month-old son. "This is a good neighborhood. I didn't expect anything to happen," Chirag Patel said.
Police report that they received a call from someone in the neighborhood who described a man looking in the garages of other homes. "The caller, who lives in the neighborhood, did not recognize the subject and thought him to be suspicious," the police said in the statement.
A lawyer for the Patel family said that the older man was not on anyone else's property or looking in anyone's garage. "This is broad daylight, walking down the street. There is nothing suspicious about Mr. Patel other than he has brown skin," attorney Hank Sherrod said.
The older Patel, who does not speak English, was making only his second trip to the U.S. and had been in the country for two weeks.
Sherrod told the news site that Sureshbhai Patel told the officers "no English" and told them his son's house number. Officers then proceeded to frisk the older man.
"The subject began putting his hands in his pockets," the police statement claimed. "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 lawyer claims that two officers confronted Patel at the time. One officer, Sherrod says, pulled the older man's arm up behind him, pushing him into the ground face-first.
"This is just one of those things that doesn't need to happen," Sherrod insisted. "That officer doesn't need to be on the streets."
Sureshbhai Patel was then taken to the hospital, where his son found him unable to move his legs and with limited use of his arms. Since undergoing surgery to fuse two of his vertebrae, the older Patel can now move his right leg a little, but his left side remains paralyzed. He can lift his arms but cannot grip tightly, Chirag Patel added. He says he's been told that his father can regain full mobility, but only with intensive therapy.
According to AL.com, Madison Police Capt. John Stringer said that there were audio and video recordings of the incident that were being reviewed for the investigation and would not be released to the public. The Madison Police Department has refused to identify the officers involved.
Read more at AL.com.