Indian Grandfather Nearly Paralyzed After Police Encounter in Alabama

By Aura Bogado Feb 11, 2015

Police in Madison, Alabama–a growing town just west of Huntsville–say they were responding to a call about a "suspicious person" walking around looking in home garages. That’s when they found Sureshbhai Patel, a 57-year-old grandfather with permanent residence status in the U.S. who was visiting from India. What happened next left him nearly paralyzed.

Patel, who doesn’t speak much English, was being questioned by officers who wanted to search him when, apparently, he tried to walk away. He was then thrown to the ground and eventually taken to the hospital where he’s being treated for fused vertebrae.

The incident isn’t necessarily isolated. South Asian Americans Leading Together, or SAALT, says that what happened to Patel illustrates the inequities communities of color face when dealing with the police.

"This incident is part of a pattern of racial profiling, surveillance, and violence that South Asians often face at the hands of law enforcement and part of the broader reality of police brutality in this country directed against Black and Brown communities," says SAALT’s Suman Raghunathan via e-mail. The group says it’s echoing the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement to change the way that policing is done.

According to, the Madison Police Department has issued a statement that the case is under investigation and "the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete."