Video: An Alabama Police Officer Threw an Indian Grandfather to the Ground for No Reason
A disturbing new dashboard camera video out of Madison, Alabama, shows a police officer throwing a man to the ground — an assault that allegedly left the 57-year-old temporarily paralyzed.
According to AL.com, Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian citizen who arrived in the United States just two weeks ago, was visiting family to help his son's wife care for their infant son. He was walking near the family's home on Feb. 6 when he was stopped by police, who said they received a 911 call claiming that a suspicious person was wandering around the neighborhood. According to a recording of the call, the person described Patel as "a skinny black guy [wearing] a toboggan."
"He was just walking on the sidewalk as he does all the time," his son Chirag Patel told AL.com. "They put him to the ground."
Hank Sherrod, the family's attorney, noted that the elder Patel speaks no English, and repeated this fact to the officers, as well as telling them the family's house number. In response — as the dashboard camera video released by police on Thursday clearly shows — one of the officers, Eric Parker, violently threw him to the ground.
In a statement, Sherrod said that Patel was stopped simply for having brown skin. "This is broad daylight, walking down the street. There is nothing suspicious about Mr. Patel other than he has brown skin," he said. Police chalked the incident up to a "communication barrier," according to a statement.
But there were repercussions. Unlike other cases of excessive force used by police, this time, the officer involved is seeing consequences.
The Associated Press reported that Parker has been arrested and will also be relieved of his duties with the Madison police department. "I found that Officer Eric Parker's actions did not meet the high standards and expectations of the Madison City Police Department," police chief Larry Muncey said during a press conference.
He also noted that the FBI is conducting a separate investigation into the incident "to ascertain if there were any federal violations."
Sherrod, however, pointed out that the punishment was coming a little late. "On Monday [Feb. 9], they were trying to blame Mr. Patel," he said, according to AL.com. "On Monday, they were minimizing this. I'm glad they apparently are starting to do the right thing. But why weren't they doing this on Monday?"
It's part of a larger issue. Issues of police brutality have long existed in the United States, but they've recently rocketed to the forefront of the national conversation after the deaths of a number of young black men at the hands of police, including Michael Brown, Eric Garner and 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Patel doesn't necessarily precisely fit this profile, but he is yet another victim of excessive force by a police officer. In the scope of things, he was lucky — he escaped with his life — but the fact that we consider him fortunate in the face of what could have happened speaks volumes about just how deep the problem goes.
In this case, the police department made the right call by removing Parker from his position. It may be just one example, but it's a start — other police forces would do well to note.