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#HeavyHanded: Indian grandfather left temporarily paralyzed after encounter with Alabama police

An Indian grandfather has been left temporarily paralyzed after being slammed to the ground by police in northern Alabama, just a week after arriving in the United States to visit his son and daughter-in-law.

Sureshbhai Patel, 57, who is unable to communicate in English, had been out for a walk near his son’s house in the town of Huntsville on last Friday when he was confronted by two police officers who were responding a “suspicious person” call.

Mr Patel’s lawyers say that he had attempted to convey to the officers that he could not speak English and had repeatedly mentioned ‘India’ before pointing to his son’s house.

The officers had then begun patting him down before restraining him by slamming him on the ground.

According to local reports, the incident left Patel bleeding from the face, temporarily paralyzed and in need of surgery to fuse two vertebrae.

Henry Sherrod, a civil rights lawyer who is representing Mr Patel, told Al Jazeera: “He was just out for a walk, and apparently someone made a suspicious person call.  This is a grandfather who came to help his son and daughter-in-law with their 17-month-old son who was premature and developmentally delayed.”

Mr Patel is said to have arrived in Huntsville from the small town of Pij, Gujarat just a week before the incident.

His son Chirag Patel, works as an engineer in the affluent town.

Mr Sherrod said Mr Patel had regained movement of his arms but was not yet able to grip with his hands. 

He has regained limited use of his left leg, but his right remained paralyzed, Sherrod added.

The family have now file a lawsuit against the town’s police department which has begun an investigation and suspended one of the officer’s involved.

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