MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey says he has recommended one of his officers be terminated after an incident last week that left a 57-year-old Indian man severely injured. The officer has also been charged with third-degree assault.
Chief Muncey spoke at a news conference Thursday afternoon, discussing the department's use of force investigation into the incident. Police showed video and audio of the officers' encounter with the man. Afterward, Chief Muncey said the actions of Officer Eric Parker did not meet the standards of the Madison Police Department.
"I sincerely apologize to Mr. Patel, Mr. Patel's family and our community. We strive to exceed expectations," said Chief Muncey. He said he has proposed Officer Parker be terminated, and he has also been arrested for third-degree assault. Parker turned himself in on the charge.
Chief Muncey said Officer Parker turned himself in to the Limestone County Sheriff's Office on the assault charge.
The FBI will also conduct a civil rights inquiry, and will turn over its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice to determine if further actions will be taken.
Parker has been in the news before. WHNT News 19 confirmed he was the victim of an attempted robbery back in August. Officials say Parker was off duty. When Madison Police released information about Parker after the incident, they noted he won two meritorious awards for his work in less than two years on the force.
The incident took place the morning of Friday, February 6. A neighbor called police about a suspicious man walking in the neighborhood and dispatchers sent two officers there. Click here to listen to the call.
Dashcam video shows officers arrived at 8:18 a.m.
Two officers, one of them Parker, spot Patel on the sidewalk. They get out of the patrol car and walk up to him. In the audio, the officers ask Patel for ID, then ask his name. "Do you live here?" the officers ask. "What's your address?" and Patel points at something. The language barrier becomes apparent, because Patel does not speak English. The officers then ask Patel not to jerk away. An officer repeats that, and soon afterward, Patel is thrown down.
Members of the local Indian community also attended Thursday's news conference to show their support for Patel. The group included Indian Consul Anil Kumar, who flew in from Atlanta solely to meet with Patel. He pushed his flight back on Thursday to attend the presser. After watching the video, all of them told WHNT News 19 that they are peaceful people and the treatment of Patel was unjust.
Earlier this week, WHNT News 19 spoke with the family of the Indian man injured, Sureshbhai Patel. The 57-year-old man does not speak English and has been hospitalized since February 6, when he was out for a walk in his son's neighborhood off County Line Road.
Offers of help have poured in from as far away as California. Many in north Alabama have also expressed a desire to help. Supporters have set up a gofundme account to help the Patel family with their mounting medical bills. Patel has no insurance.
Mr. Patel had arrived just six days earlier from India, to help his son and daughter-in-law with childcare. Madison Police, investigating a call about a suspicious person, stopped the 57-year-old as he walked down the family's street. Police admit there was a language barrier and Patel was forced to the ground, suffering injury.
The family says he was taken to Madison Hospital, with no feeling in his arms or legs. Doctors performed neck surgery the next day. According to the family, he has since regained some feeling in his limbs but remains partially paralyzed. They say doctors expect a long road to recovery. The Patel family filed a lawsuit Feb. 12 against the City of Madison and the Madison Police Department.
Organizers of the gofundme account have set a goal of $25,000. As of Thursday afternoon, they had raised more than $13,000.