Wheelchair-bound Sureshbhai Patel, 58, told District Court in Huntsville that he had been out for a morning walk in the neighbourhood when police approached. He was helped to the stand by a translator, ABC-affiliated television station reported.
Opening arguments began yesterday in the trial for Madison police officer Eric Parker who is accused of using excessive force on an elderly man.
Patel said he doesn’t speak English and couldn’t understand the orders police gave him that day.
He said he tried to tell them where his house was. Then, one officer grabbed his hands and put them behind his back.
Another other checked his pockets. He did not try to jerk away, then an officer threw him to ground.
His legs became numb and his nose start bleeding. They tried to lift him up, but he couldn’t because his legs were numb. He would later undergo surgery to have a plate inserted in his neck.
Patel told the prosecutor he never had trouble with police before, either in the United States, or in India. He said because of his injury, he cannot care for his grandson, which is why he came to US.
He was then cross-examined by defence attorney Robert Tuten.
“On your second visit to the United States to see your son in Huntsville, did you go to the doctor for your leg?” Tuten asked.
Patel said he did, because he was bitten by a dog in India. He said he did not learn of a pre-existing spinal condition during that visit.
Tuten then asked if he reached into his pockets when talking to the officers, or try to walk away from them. Patel replied “no” to both questions.
When asked if he had his passport with him, Patel said he didn’t think about it.
Parker, who was subsequently fired by the Madison Police Department, faces up to 10 years in prison on the federal charge if convicted. He also faces a misdemeanor assault charge in Limestone County, but that case has been put on hold pending the outcome of the federal trial.
The incident occurred on the morning of February 6.
A day before, Patel had arrived in the US to assist his son and daughter-in-law in caring for their 17-month-old child who suffered a developmental delay after a premature birth.
The US government had expressed condolences to Patel’s family but refrained to comment on any diplomatic discussion with India which has taken up the issue with it.
The Governor of the US state of Alabama had apologised for the “unfortunate” use of excessive force by police that left him partially paralysed.