The growing public outrage about police brutality in the United States extended abroad last month after an Indian man was left partially paralyzed following a violent arrest by two Alabama police officers.
On Friday, officials in Alabama announced the indictment of Eric Sloan Parker on charges that he violated the civil rights of Sureshbhai Patel and used "unreasonable force" during the February 6 arrest.
"Law enforcement officers who violate their oath to protect and use excessive force must be brought to justice," US Attorney Joyce White Vance said Saturday, according to AL.com. The federal prosecutor said Parker was being charged with "deprivation of rights under color of law."
During the arrest, Parker and another officer slammed Sureshbhai Patel, a 57-year old grandfather, to the ground and smashed his face on the concrete as he was walking down a suburban street visiting his family. The incident was captured on video.
"He don't speak a lick of English," one of the officers can be heard saying as they arrest Patel and try to pick him up off the ground. According to a 911 call and statements released by the Madison Police Department, the officers were responding to a call about a suspicious person walking in the neighborhood.
The Madison Police Department said Patel acted suspiciously by "putting his hands in his pockets," when police showed up. One officer says in the video, "he keeps trying to walk away," before tying Patel's hands behind his back.
In addition to the federal civil charge from the Justice Department, Parker has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. He was subsequently fired from the police department and is currently on paid leave after appealing the termination.
Patel, who was visiting his son in Madison from India, suffered damage to his spine and remains in a rehabilitation center recovering.
The incident sparked outrage toward the police in Alabama and embarrassment for the state at home and abroad. Shortly after news of the arrest spread, the Indian foreign ministry vocalized its condemnation to senior US diplomats in India and urged for an "expeditious investigation," according to the Times of India.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley apologized on February 17 to the Indian government for the treatment of Patel.
"I deeply regret the unfortunate use of excessive force by the Madison Police Department on Sureshbhai Patel and for the injuries sustained by Mr. Patel," Bentley said in a letter. "I sincerely hope that Mr. Patel continues to improve and that he will regain full use of his legs."
Bentley has called for an investigation by state police and the FBI.