Texas Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal Killed in Line of Duty, Honored by Community

September 28, 2019 Updated: September 28, 2019

A Texas deputy was killed in the line of duty after being shot in the back of the head near Houston on Sept. 27.

Harris County’s Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42, was killed around 12.30 p.m. while he was conducting a traffic stop in northwest Harris County.

While Dhaliwal was speaking with the driver at the stop, “there was no combat, no arguing.” Maj. Mike Lee of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference. Citing a review of the dashboard camera footage that captured the incident, Lee said the exchange between the two appeared “like a routine traffic stop that we conduct every day.”

But as Dhaliwal proceeded back to his patrol vehicle, the driver ran up behind the deputy and shot him in the back of the head, Lee said. The shooter then fled.

Later that day, police charged Robert Solis, 47, with capital murder in relation to Dhaliwal’s death. Solis had an active parole violation warrant for an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon dating back to January 2017, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Gonzalez announced on Twitter Sept. 27 that Dhaliwal “was unable to recover from his injuries.”

“I’m sad to share with you that we’ve lost one of our own,” Gonzalez wrote. “There are no words to convey our sadness. Please keep his family and our agency in your prayers.”

Gonzalez posted a photo of Dhaliwal, praising the deputy as a “wonderful father, husband, son brother, friend, and last but not least, a Texas Peace Officer.”

At a press conference, Gonzalez called Dhaliwal “a hero, a respected member of the community and a trailblazer.”

Dhaliwal, a married father of three, made national news in 2015 when he became the first in the department to wear his turban on patrol, due to his Sikh religion. He was a 10-year veteran at the sheriff’s office, having joined in 2008 as a detention officer and became deputy four years later.

“Deputy Dhaliwal is known to everybody as someone with a giving heart,” Gonzalez said, adding that Dhaliwal was the first member of the Sikh community to join the sheriff’s office.

“He wore the turban. He represented his community with integrity, respect and pride and… he was respected by all,” Gonzalez said. Dhaliwal had recently returned from a volunteer mission in Puerto Rico, Gonzalez added.

An impromptu community-led local vigil was organized late Friday to pay tribute to Dhaliwal. Major Mike Lee tweeted footage of the night, with a message asking the community to “keep his family and his [police] family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement expressing condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the fallen deputy.

“This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the risks that our law enforcement officers face every single day,” he said in the statement. “I thank the officers who bravely responded to apprehend the suspect, and I assure you that the state of Texas is committed to bringing this killer to justice.”

Dhaliwal’s death marks the second case this year in Texas whereby a deputy was killed during a traffic stop.

In March, Deputy Sheriff Peter Herrera died after being shot multiple times during a traffic stop in San Elizario, some 25 miles southeast of El Paso. Herrara did not even have an opportunity to draw his own weapon. The driver was charged with capital murder, and the other occupant of the car was charged with other crimes in connection with Herrara’s death.

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