A man from India was beaten up by Alabama police while walking near his son's home merely for having "brown skin," his lawyer says. Sureshbhai Patel, 57, was left temporarily paralyzed and hospitalized with fused vertebrae from the incident which occurred only two weeks after he arrived in the United States from the small Indian town of Pij.
Hank Sherrod, an attorney for the Patel family, said the grandfather was doing nothing illegal or suspicious when he was beaten in the northern Alabama town of Madison on Friday. "This is broad daylight, walking down the street. There is nothing suspicious about Mr. Patel other than he has brown skin," Sherrod said, according to local media reports.
Sherrod said one officer pulled Patel's arm up behind him and pushed him face-first into the ground. "This is just one of those things that doesn't need to happen," said Sherrod, saying the police left Patel lying on the ground and bleeding from his face. "That officer doesn't need to be on the streets."
The department said the officer stopped Patel after getting a 911 call about a man looking into homes in the neighborhood. "The caller, who lives in the neighborhood, did not recognize the subject and thought him to be suspicious," read the statement released by police.
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Patel moved to the U.S. to help his son and his wife care for their 17-month-old son. He does not speak English. "This is a good neighborhood. I didn't expect anything to happen," said Chirag Patel, the son. Madison is an affluent suburb of Huntsville with many foreign-born residents like the Patels.
Chirag Patel said he had recently purchased a one-way ticket for his father from India. "He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time," he said of the police attack. "They put him to the ground."
Sureshbhai Patel was taken to a local hospital, where he was unable to move his legs and had limited motion in his arms. He also experienced swelling in the spine. Doctors performed cervical fusion surgery the next day, according to the New York Daily News.