Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal sadly passed away after being shot during a routine traffic stop in Harris County, Texas. His community mourns their loss.
Trigger Warning: Gun Violence, Racially-Motivated Hate Crimes
Sandeep Dhaliwal, Sheriff's Deputy at Harris County Sheriff’s Department in Texas, made national headlines in 2015 as the first practicing Sikh to wear a turban and beard while in uniform, on the job. Unfortunately, while at a routine traffic stop, he was gunned down, reports The Huffington Post. The perpetrator has since been identified. Meanwhile, hundreds of individuals came together to celebrate his memory and legacy as he was a vital part of his neighborhood. Not only was he considered a trailblazer for the Sikh community, but he was equally appreciated by all those in his district.
In 2015, Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was the first Texan approved to wear his turban while on duty. In 2017, during Hurricane Harvey he spent time “giving back in ways he never imagined” pic.twitter.com/dWyCvv8rtU— Brett Buffington (@BrettKHOU) September 27, 2019
Details of the incident were released during a press conference held in honor of the late Deputy. The altercation took place just before 12:30 p.m. on Friday, September 27, when Deputy Dhaliwal initiated a routine traffic stop. According to Maj. Mike Lee of the same Sheriff’s Department, the driver and Dhaliwal had what appeared to be a "peaceful interaction" upon reviewing dashcam footage. He stated, "It looked to just be conversational ― there was no combat, no arguing, just looked like a routine traffic stop that we conduct every day." It was as the Deputy walked back to his patrol car that the driver stepped out of his vehicle and immediately pulled out a gun. He proceeded to “[run] up from behind and basically ambush” him. The perpetrator, identified as 47-year-old Robert Solis, shot him square in the back of his head.
This Texas community is mourning the loss of 'trailblazing' Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, the first of his department to wear a turban and beard on duty. Deputy Dhaliwal was fatally shot during a traffic stop. pic.twitter.com/SViM9KN2zF— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 29, 2019
A woman doing some yard work two houses away heard two gunshots fired and noticed Solis fleeing the scene of the crime as well. She quickly checked on Dhaliwal before calling 911. The call prompted officers from numerous precincts in the area to begin searching for the perpetrator. Solis was finally identified less than a quarter of a mile away from the scene, at a local business. Maj. Lee explained, "A deputy observed that he looked a little nervous and put him in custody. And that did turn out to be our shooter." An additional woman, who was seated in the passenger seat of Solis' car, was also taken into custody by police officials. Solis has since been charged with capital murder. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez also stated that there was an active parole violation warrant out against him dating back to January 2017 for aggravated assault.
Thank you @HoustonTexans for this amazing tribute to Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal. @HCSOTexas #LoveOverHate pic.twitter.com/rDFUxWW1U8— ravinder singh (@RaviSinghKA) September 29, 2019
Deputy Dhaliwal's death has been a tragic loss for his community. Many have taken to social media platforms to share messages of condolence in his honor. A Harris County resident, for example, shared a video in which the officer is seen playing with her deaf son. The video was posted Twitter by the Sherrif's Department. They stated, "A Harris County resident sent us a video of fallen Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal. 'He laughed and joked with all of us, and left a bright impression on my son who is deaf,' she said. Deputy Dhaliwal is an incredible loss not only to our HCSO family but to the entire community." Sheriff Gonzalez added, "This video captures the essence of who Deputy Dhaliwal was. 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."
A Harris County resident sent us a video of fallen Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) September 28, 2019
“He laughed and joked with all of us, and left a bright impression on my son who is deaf,” she said.
Deputy Dhaliwal is an incredible loss not only to our HCSO family but to the entire community. pic.twitter.com/EbsdFeeWXO
Deputy Dhaliwal leaves behind a wife and three young children. As his family and community mourn their tragic loss, many have highlighted the prevalent issues of hate crime and gun violence in the United States. Under the current White House administration, it appears that violence on racial and political fronts have only increased; In March of this year, The Washington Post reported that "counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally." While Dhaliwal's murder may not have been classified as a hate crime, it is a reminder of the importance of unity at a time when politics and administration are deeply governed by problematic and divisive rhetoric.
Absolutely devastating. Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was fatally shot Friday during a traffic stop. The suspect shot him in back of the head. This is so sickening and so heartbreaking.#officerdown #BlueLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/fo2Ub0rcRG— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) September 28, 2019