An Indian-American Sikh police officer was on Friday shot and killed while making a traffic stop near Houston in United States, AP reported. Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was described as a trailblazer after he gained permission to wear a turban as part of his uniform and made way for other Sikhs to join sheriff’s department.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said he was “deeply grieved” by the incident. “We have just visited that city,” he said in a tweet. “My condolences to his family.”
Mike Lee of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Dhaliwal conducted a routine traffic stop and nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary and that it looked conversational. “At some point, the deputy shut the driver’s door and Dhaliwal began to walk to his patrol car...within about three to four seconds the suspect exit the car and almost immediately running with a gun already out,” he said during a press conference.
The police did a review of dashboard camera footage from the traffic stop.
Lee said that the driver ran up behind the deputy and “basically ambushed” him, shooting him in the back of the head. He added that when a woman doing yard work heard two gunshots and saw the gunman flee. She called 911 to alert them about the shooting.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the accused shot him at least twice – “basically just shot him in a very ruthless, cold-blooded way”, according to AP.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Dhaliwal “represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned the killing. “Deeply anguished to learn the ruthless killing of Deputy Sheriff of Harris County, Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal,” he tweeted. “He represented the Sikh community with pride and was the first turbaned police officer of America. My condolences to his family. RIP.”
Police charged Robert Solis, 47, of Houston with capital murder on Friday night. He was held without bond in the Harris County Jail. Solis had an active parole violation warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon from 2017, Gonzalez said on Twitter.
The possible motive for the shooting was not clear yet.
“Deputy Dhaliwal served the Copper Brook community and he was loved and respected by all,” Gonzalez said. “He touched countless of lives along the way. A legacy that will never be forgotten. We will aspire to be as good as he was.”
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