South Asian body outraged over mistrial in Indian grandfather's case
Washington, Nov 6, 2015: A leading South Asian community organisation has expressed "outrage" over the declaration of a second mistrial in the case of an Alabama police officer charged with slamming an Indian grandfather to the ground.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) also asked the community to be vigilant and engaged in the efforts of the movement for Black lives to draw attention to the ways in which Black communities in particular, as well as other communities of colour, are facing state violence.
SAALT said Thursday it was "outraged" that a second mistrial was declared by a federal court in Huntsville after a deadlocked jury once again failed to convict Madison, Alabama police officer, Eric Parker.
Parker was captured on video beating Indian grandfather, Sureshbhai Patel, to the point of partial paralysis in February after Patel, initially identified by a neighbour as a "suspicious Black man," repeatedly told the officer he could not speak English, it noted.
The US Department of Justice re-tried the case after the first mistrial was declared in September.
"While the trial was supposed to focus on the unreasonable use of force that Parker used on Patel, it was Patel's immigration status and English proficiency skills that were really on trial," said Lakshmi Sridaran,
Director of National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT.Indeed, in his opening remarks, Parker's attorney said: "When you come to the US we expect you to follow our laws and speak our language. Mr. Patel bears as much responsibility for this as anyone."
"We continue to believe in the strength of the evidence and that the defendant's actions violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiff," said Bhavani Kakani, President of AshaKiran.
"As we see time again with police brutality cases in this country, particularly with Black victims, the message of this case is loud and clear: that police brutality rarely warrants punishment."
Dante Barry, Executive Director of Million Hoodies United, noted: "It is absolutely devastating to hear the news from Alabama as it reflects a deep pattern of unfairness for people of colour.
"Although grounded in anti-blackness, police brutality by law enforcement and immigration enforcement is no stranger to South Asian communities and it is indicative of this political moment to be on the path to justice," he said.
"The case of Mr. Patel provides an opportunity for South Asians to become active participants in the demands of the movement for Black lives," said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. ...IANS
All lives matter: Prosecution at cop's retrial for assaulting Indian grandfather
Washington, Oct 31, 2015: "It's not only police lives that matter. All lives matter," a new jury was told as it weighed afresh evidence against an Alabama police officer charged with using excessive force on an Indian grandfather.
"The defence says the community must respect police, but the police must earn the respect of the community," Assistant US Attorney Robert Posey told the jury in a Huntsville, Alabama court Friday in his final arguments.
The first trial of former Madison Officer Eric Parker for Feb 6 slamming of Sureshbhai Patel, who had arrived days earlier from India to take care of his grandson, ended last month with a 10-2 in favour of acquittal.
If convicted, Parker faces 10 years in federal prison.
Posey told the jury that in deciding whether the force was excessive they need to look at the severity of the crime in progress, according to local Al.com.
The call from a neighbour about a suspicious person in the neighbourhood, said Posey, alleged only: "Walking, standing, looking. None of these are crimes."
He also urged the jury to consider immediacy of the threat to the officer. "This officer is saying he had to do this because of his safety," said Posey, arguing that walking away from officers is not evidence a suspect is armed.
Patel was not armed. "Just doesn't make sense," said Posey. Parker, he suggested changed his story after he realised he could not "stand him up and brush him off."
He said then Parker began to develop a reason for the stop, asking a dispatcher for help identifying crimes in the area for probable cause. Posey said that suggests Parker knew what he did was wrong.
Defence attorney Robert Tuten put the blame on Patel saying "All Mr. Patel had to do was stop."
He said if Patel had shown officers some identification, they would have written a report and sent him on his way. He said police are obligated to investigate calls from neighbours concerned about someone suspicious in the area.
Patel didn't speak English and didn't understand the officers' questions. But, Tuten said there was no way Parker could know this was a "harmless Indian grandfather walking down Hardiman Place Lane."
"We all feel sorry for Mr. Patel. We wouldn't be human if we didn't," he said, but he suggested the video shows Patel did not comply with police orders. "The event, this incident, was escalated by what Mr. Patel did. All he had to do was stand there."
Posey offered final rebuttal to the jury saying it's true to say there are lives on the line during police encounters, but he added: "It's not only police lives that matter. All lives matter."
The new jury deliberated in private for over an over hour late Friday after hearing three days of testimony. It would resume its deliberations Monday after once again watching the video of Parker taking Patel to the ground.....IANS
Indian grandfather was slammed like 'cutting down a tree'
Washington, Oct 30, 2015: An Alabama police officer used a too violent technique, like "somebody cutting down a tree", to slam an Indian grandfather to the ground, an expert witness testified in the retrial of the cop.
Former Madison Officer Eric Parker did not use a takedown consistent with prevailing national police standards for Sureshbhai Patel, who had arrived days earlier from India to take care of his grandson, Captain Kenny Sanders told a Huntsville court Thursday.
The first trial of Parker for the Feb 6 takedown of Patel while he was taking a walk near his son's home ended early last month with a hung jury, as the jury split 10-2 in favour of acquittal. If convicted, Parker faces 10 years in federal prison.
"That was pretty violent technique that he used that day. I've never seen it," said Sanders, who testified he is the senior master instructor for police training in the state of Louisiana, according to Al.com
"Lumberjack, that's what it reminds me of, somebody cutting down a tree in their yard," he said when asked about the takedown of Patel, 57, in response to a neighbour's call about a "skinny black man" walking near homes.
The takedown left Patel in need of spinal surgery and with limited ability to walk or grip with his hands.
The defence has argued Patel pulled away as Parker searched him and that he could have had a deadly weapon in his pants' pockets.
"If he was trying to pull away, it still would not have equated to the type of force ... the technique is too violent," testified Sanders.
He said Patel's age, his size, his inability to speak English and the presence of multiple officers should have factored into the decision on how to handle Patel.
Sanders also testified he did not see a sign of a threat on the video, saying Patel's legs seemed relaxed.
As for Patel walking away from officer, Sanders said: "That's not really resistance."
Earlier, Captain John Stringer, an 18-year veteran of the Madison police force, said the force used by Parker had to be proportional with the actions of Patel. "My conclusion was it was improper."
After the prosecution rested, Defence attorney Robert Tuten asked the judge to throw out the case saying, "They did not prove he was wilfully, intentionally violating the civil rights of Mr. Patel by using excessive force."
Assistant US Attorney Robert Posey replied that police must be "objectively reasonable" in taking steps that would be criminal assault if done by somebody else. "He's lucky he didn't kill him. This is essentially, the government would argue, deadly force."...IANS
Whites in some states may show more hidden racial bias
It’s a sad, but well-known truth that many people around the world are persecuted for their religious beliefs. But many people are also suffering for their lack of religious belief, though their stories are not as often shared.
The United States has a racially and ethnically diverse population. The census officially recognizes six ethnic and racial categories: White American, Native American and Alaska Native, Asian American, Black or African American. The historic fight against discrimination and racial bias in the United States continues and has perhaps become more challenging in the 21st century, especially after Sep.11.
“Now NRI population is growing from Hospital to hotel business area in all States of USA,” Dr. Ramesh Patel from Albama told NRIpress in telephone Inteview. “ In some Southern States of US, the police must meet higher standards, and better standards need to be set for them”
An Alabama police officer was arrested on an assault charge Thursday and could be fired for slamming a 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground last week, leaving the grandfather partially paralyzed. …………NRIpress-Club/Anil Malhotra, NYC
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US lawmakers condemn police assault on Indian grandfather
Washington, Feb 14, 2014: Several US lawmakers condemned the police assault on an Indian grandfather who was slammed to the ground by a police officer in Alabama – while he was out for a walk in the neighbourhood – leaving him partially paralysed as donations poured in for the victim.
The police officer Eric Parker, who assaulted Sureshbhai Patel, 57, Feb 6 while he was taking a walk in front of his son Chirag Patel’s house in a Madison, Alabama suburb was arrested Thursday and Police Chief Larry Muncey has recommended that he be fired.
Parker was released on $1,000 bond from the Limestone County Jail. A court appearance has been set for him for March 12, according to WAFF-TV, a local news channel, Patel, who had come from India recently to look after his grandson who was born prematurely, filed a lawsuit Thursday saying his civil rights were violated. It seeks an unspecified amount of money. According to the lawsuit, Patel said he tried to tell the officers that he doesn’t speak English, saying “No English. Indian. Walking.”
Both police videos show two officers eventually forcing Patel to the ground with his hands behind his back.
One police video captured an officer asking Patel, “Did you bite your lip?” as he remained on the ground. The officers repeatedly attempted to get Patel to “stand up” so they could move him to a patrol car.
According to the lawsuit, Patel was paralysed in his arms and legs after officers forced him to the ground, his face bloodied.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki when asked Friday whether the department was sending any officials to Alabama to meet the victim along with Indian officials told reporters that “I don’t believe there’s a role for the State Department here.”
“We certainly wish Mr. Patel a full recovery from his injuries. Our thoughts are with his family,” she said declining further comment as “this case is under investigation.”
The lone Indian Congressman Ami Bera, who is also co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the incident “horrible and tragic.”
Noting that the FBI has opened an investigation, he said: “Moving forward, we must come together as a nation to tackle the very real issues our minority communities face, and to rebuild trust and understanding among law enforcement agencies and the diverse communities that they serve.”
Several members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) including chair Judy Chu, Michael Honda, Ted Lieu, Jan Schakowsky and Grace Meng also condemned the use of excessive police force against Sureshbhai Patel.
“In no way should the colour of someone’s skin or their limited English proficiency lead to the type of confusion and unreasonable use of force that left Mr. Patel partially paralysed,” said Chu.
“As we await the FBI’s findings, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that this type of profiling and excessive force is no longer permitted by law enforcement,” she said.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post donations have been pouring into GoFundMe account set by a member of the Indian community, who is not related to the family, to help with Patel’s medical bills and other expenses.
That GoFundMe page has collected more than $50,000 in donations for the family as of late Friday morning. The fund is trying to raise $100,000 for Patel, who has no insurance.
Patel’s lawyer Hank Sherrod told The Post Friday that Indian Americans from all over the country have contacted him directly about sending cheques to the family to cover medical bills…….IANS
Support Rally in Los Angeles For Sureshbhai Patel, paralyzed after police force
Artesia, California, Feb. 14, 2015
Indians in Los Angeles gathered to show the support to Sureshbhai Patel, who is currently hospitalized after unnecessary and excessive force by the Madison, Alabama police. About 20 people including women and children joined the rally on Feb 14th, 12:30 PM in Artesia
Sureshbhai Patel recently came to US to visit his son's family, and his grand children in Madison, Alabama. On February 6th morning, he was walking on the sidewalk. One of the neighbors called the police to report a "suspicious person". In the video released, it can be seen that soon after police arrived they threw Sureshbhai head-first on the ground. This caused Sureshbhai paralyzed on one side of the body. The police officer was later charged with third degree assault
All the participants expressed their support to Sureshbhai's family. Srihari Atluri from Laguna Hills explained that the gathering is to pray for Sureshbhai's speedy recovery and to demand police to review their training methods and standard operating procedures. Sreekanth Kocharlakota from Torrance said that Indians in LA and rest of the country are ready to support Sureshbhai's family in this difficult time, in anyway necessary. Kartik Sundaram, Archana Sudamalla and Advait Kartik from La Cresenta said they are happy that the police chief of Madison came out quickly and suspended the police officer involved, but they said this should not be looked as an isolated incident. Dnyanesh Dharmadhikari from Tustin said his prayer are with the family, and he also said there is a responsibility on the community to educate our relatives visiting from India on how police system works here. Some of the placards displayed said "It could be my grandfather", "Tone Down Police Aggression", "Jusice for Suresh Patel", "Prayers with Sureshbhai Patel"