Sandeep Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and its first Sikh deputy, stopped a vehicle with two people inside around at 12:45 p.m.
One of the occupants was able to leave the vehicle, approach the deputy from behind and shoot him at least twice — “basically just shot him in a very ruthless, cold-blooded way,” said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Dhaliwal’s dashboard camera captured video showing Dhaliwal speaking with the driver in what appeared to be a conversational tone with “no combat, no arguing,” Sheriff’s Maj. Mike Lee said. The driver’s door was opened at one point, and Dhaliwal shut it as the driver remained in the vehicle. When Dhaliwal turned to walk back to his patrol car, the driver steps from the car “almost immediately running with a gun already out,” Lee said. The driver shot the deputy from behind, hitting him in the back of the head. The driver got back in his car and drove away.
A deputy a short time later found a nervous man matching the description of the driver in a business at a nearby strip shopping center, Lee said. A woman believed to have been a passenger in the car also was taken into custody. Their identities haven’t been released.
Dhaliwal, 42, was pronounced dead at Memorial Hermann Hospital, Fox 26 Houston reported.
“I’m sad to share with you that we’ve lost one of our own,” Gonzalez tweeted Friday. “There are no words to convey our sadness. Please keep his family and our agency in your prayers.”
Gonzalez’s predecessor as sheriff, Adrian Garcia, implemented a religious accommodation policy that allowed Dhaliwal to wear the traditional turban and beard of the Sikh religion. The deputy was a father of three children.
Gonzelez recounted how Dhaliwal worked with United Sikhs, an international nonprofit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization affiliated with the United Nations. Dhaliwal worked with the nonprofit to organize the donation of supplies for first responders after Hurricane Harvey devastated the county. He also went to Puerto Rico to help with relief after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he and his wife were mourning the deputy’s loss and sending their sympathies to his family and law enforcement members.
“This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the risks that our law enforcement officers face every single day,” Abbott said in a 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.”