Governor apologizes for police treatment of Indian man

In this Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 photo released by Chirag Patel, Sureshbhai Patel is shown in a bed at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Ala. An officer with the Madison Police Department has been arrested and faces termination following a confrontation in which the 57-year-old Indian grandfather was injured. (AP Photo/Chirag Patel)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apologized to the Indian government for the treatment of an Indian man who was roughed-up by police, calling the case one of “excessive force” in a letter made public Tuesday.

Bentley’s office released a letter to Indian general consul Ajit Kumar a day after the two men met to discuss the case involving 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel (suh-RESH’-beye pah-TEL’), who was hurt in a confrontation with Madison police while visiting relatives earlier this month.

Audio and video recordings released by police show Patel was slammed face-first to the ground by an officer responding to a call about someone walking in a subdivision in the town, a bedroom community of Huntsville.

Patel suffered injuries including partial paralysis in his legs, and his attorney said he now is in rehabilitation after leaving a hospital Monday. The man has filed a federal lawsuit over his treatment.

The governor’s letter expressed Bentley’s “sincere apology for this tragic incident to your government, Mr. Patel, and the citizens of India who reside and work in our state.”

“I deep regret the unfortunate use of excessive force by the Madison Police Department … and for the injuries sustained by Mr. Patel,” wrote Bentley.

The Madison police chief apologized during a news conference last week.

Bentley said the state would investigate the confrontation alongside the FBI.

Bentley’s letter came as officer Eric Parker pleaded not guilty to assaulting Patel during a confrontation in the north Alabama city on Feb. 6. Parker is being fired, and he faces an April 29 trial.

An attorney for Parker, Robert Tuten, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about Bentley’s letter.

A lawyer for Patel, Hank Sherrod, said the man has left the hospital and is now in rehabilitation for injuries that include partial paralysis of his left leg.

“He has a long, difficult, and uncertain rehabilitation process ahead of him, and he and his family deeply appreciate the outpouring of prayers and support he has received,” Sherrod said in an email.

Donors have given about $185,000 on a gofundme.com to pay medical expenses for Patel, who Sherrod said does not have insurance.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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