Eminent Attorney Ravi Batra Highlights Pitfalls in Sureshbhai Patel Case

Consul General of India in Atlanta Ajit Kumar met with Sureshbhai Patel at the Huntsville Hospital (Alabama, USA) on Feb 14, 2015 and assured all possible support. The Consul General met with the family members of Patel and the medical care professionals

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Washington, DC – The brutal assault on Sureshbhai Patel has garnered attention across India and the United States. The Indian government and Indian diaspora is trying to do the support work but is it all enough? Poonam Sharma from Indian American Times spoke to eminent Indian American lawyer Ravi Batra on this tragic incident.

Do you think that Police Chief Larry Muncey’s decision to fire Eric Parker is enough to bring Alabama police to accountability?

“Sureshbhai Patel, an actually innocent man merely walking legally on the sidewalk, was slammed and flipped to the hard-as-rock frozen lawn as if he was Raggedy Ann, got his neck broken by Eric Parker, a trainee cop, with his superior officer present and not objecting, is now being victimized twice: an anemic lawsuit complaint and being checkmated by a Machiavellian Police Chief Larry Muncey, who seeks to immunize his police force and City of Madison from liability for their policy and practice of un-American and un-constitutional stop and frisk of minorities – evidenced anew by what they did to Sureshbhai.

What can be done to ensure that Sureshbhai receives justice?

I’ve called Hank Sherrod on Friday morning, and offered my help to prevent Sureshbhai being overpowered- and indeed make sure he gets a full measure of justice, even after giving the bad guys every constitutional right they are due. After all we want Sureshbhai to win fair and square in the disinfectant sunshine of an impartial American court presided over by a member of the noble bench. I await acceptance of my offer to help from Hank and Sureshbhai.

What more do you think can be done at the local and state level to prevent tragic incidents like this from occurring in the future?

The Mayor of Madison needs to come clean, rehire and re-train Eric Parker, and fire his Trainer-supervisor at the scene and Police Chief Larry Muncey.

Alabama, the site of the infamous Selma March, a March that shocked America and president LBJ to pass the Civil Rights laws, including, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has much to atone for before it can be free of its evil and inhuman past. Seems, some of its racist ghosts are alive and well in positions of authority.

I call upon Governor Robert J. Bentley to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Mayor Troy Trulock, for having its police force violate the U.S. Constitution and shame the Badge of honor – a police shield- by making it a license under law to abuse and victimize innocent law-abiding citizens, including, a peace-loving Indian: Sureshbhai.

You touched upon re-training Eric Parker. Our cities are becoming increasingly diverse (Over 25% of the population of Madison, Alabama is non-white). Do you feel that police training adequately addresses the changed demographic in our cities?

Police have always been a role model in society, and the public they protect relies upon them to be safe. Recently, with demographic changes coupled with terror, the balance seems lost at times, as clearly seen in Sureshbhai being flipped and smashed into the frozen ground. Alabama has a troubled past, and not an un-troubled present. Aside from the Selma March of the 1960’s, currently, Alabama elected as its chief justice Roy Moore who holds the US Constitution in contempt. This bodes poorly for Sureshbhai – well beyond his lawsuit’s fatal defects in not pleading federal civil rights violations properly and not suing the correct defendants with correct allegations. As a long term solution, our police force has to be retrained to serve and protect the actual demographics of society without bias or prejudice. The Madison police department’s systemic policy and practice of racism, obvious in the Police-Sureshbhai confrontation, must not be allowed to claim more innocent victims.

There is an effort by big city police to address the changing demographic in American towns. Do you also feel that the Indian American community should make more of an effort to culturally and socially integrate newcomers from India?

The Indian-American community could help newcomers better, if they themselves had become part of American society better. Making a great earning is not assimilation. How many Indian-Americans are involved with their Police and Fire Departments’ annual events, or otherwise support their local police and fire? Being a good citizen is more than running for a picture with a politician, and falsely telling people that you are so and so’s great friend. Who cares! Citizenship is a duty, as well as a right. The duty is to help these United States become a more perfect union.

What is your take on the FBI getting involved in this case and treating it as a civil rights investigation?

The people of India ought thank President Obama, who respects Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela and MLK, for giving them and Indian-Americans generally, and Sureshbhai in particular, a heart touching gift: a rare parallel federal FBI investigation of local municipal behavior, so nothing is swept under the rug. I would request my President Obama, to move Sureshbhai to Walter Reade hospital to get the finest medical care to repair the injury to his spinal cord – so Grandpa Sureshbhai can take care of his developmentally delayed premature-born grandchild who he came to Madison to care for.

It’s worth noting that one of America’s treasures, who occupied the Office that Preet Bharara the Lionhearted now holds, is Director Jim Comey – a rare man who singlehandedly protected the Constitution from then misguided White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales as AG Ashcroft lay in a hospital bed, just addressed the fact that each human being has latent bias – as in “we are all a little bit racist” – as he moves to address and cure subconscious defects. That’s the beauty of America- we have the faults that all humanity has – but perpetually strive to reach the impossible star: perfect union of people and states.”

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