The father of an Irish-American university student who was pictured on a YouTube video apparently being viciously assaulted by three policemen wearing riot gear in Mary­land, USA, has spoken of his family's love for Ireland and their hopes to visit here again one day.

In a case which has gripped America and prompted a federal investigation, four members of the Prince George's County police department in Maryland have so far been suspended for their role in the alleged assault on John "Jack" McKenna (21) last month.

Officers had originally claimed in court documents that he had instigated the attack. However, after footage shot by an amateur cameraman was posted online (right), these charges were withdrawn.

"It has been a rough month for Jack but he is hanging in there. He's a great kid and will get through this," his father, also known as John, told the Sunday Tribune. "Jack visited Ireland along with the rest of my family about eight or nine years ago... It was a truly magical time, and one day we absolutely will go back."

The McKenna family has roots in Monaghan and Mayo, from where Jack's great grandparents emigrated to the USA, as well as Kerry on his grandmother's side, he said.

"I am a proud member of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick, as is my father, as was my grandfather before us, and as Jack will one day be."

The attack on McKenna occurred as he celebrated a victory by his college basketball team along with hundreds of others. The video footage shows him skipping on a path near the University of Maryland's College park campus before stopping in front of a number of officers on horseback on 3 March last.

But as he backs away from the policemen, two officers in riot gear rush at him, and at least one hits him with a police baton. He then collapses to the ground, before a third officer rushes in and hits him repeatedly with his baton.