An Alabama policeman faces assault charges after a man recently arrived from India said he was left partially paralyzed after an officer threw him to the ground during a morning walk, authorities said on Thursday.
Sureshbhai Patel, 57, sued the city and two officers in a civil rights complaint filed Thursday, alleging race factored into his treatment, his attorney said. The FBI said it was also investigating.
Police officials in Madison, Alabama, apologized to Patel and his family at a news conference on Thursday afternoon. They added that one of the officers involved in the incident last Friday had been arrested on assault charges and officials had recommended he be fired.
Patel, who speaks no English, moved from India to Alabama about two weeks ago to help his son's family care for a 17-month-old child, said his lawyer, Henry Sherrod.
He was walking on the sidewalk outside his son’s home around 9 a.m., when police said they received a call about a suspicious person who reportedly was looking into garages, according to the lawsuit in the U.S. Northern District of Alabama.
Patel told police officers who stopped him: “No English, Indian,” and gave the house number for his son, the suit said.
A police officer then tossed Patel, who weighs about 130 pounds, to the ground, according to the complaint.
He was severely injured, requiring surgery to relieve pressure on his spinal cord, the complaint said. He has regained some movement in his arms and legs but remains very weak, his attorney said.
“I just can’t believe what they did to this very gentle man who wanted nothing more than to go out for a walk,” Sherrod said.
Police on Thursday released video of the incident, recorded from inside a patrol vehicle. It showed Patel standing with his hands behind his back with two uniformed officers in a residential neighborhood.
Then one officer abruptly flipped him to the ground.
Police also shared a recording of the suspicious person call, which had been questioned by Patel's attorney.
The results of the federal probe will be turned over to the U.S. Justice Department, said Paul Daymond, a spokesman for the FBI division in Birmingham.