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Houston-Area’s First Sikh Deputy Shot In The Head During Traffic Stop, Devastating The Community That Loved Him

Harris County Sheriffs Office Facebook page

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  • A Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office deputy died after being shot in the head at a traffic stop Friday.
  • Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42 and the father of three young kids, joined the office as its first Sikh deputy 10 years ago and advocated for religious rights for officers.
  • “There are no words to convey our sadness. Please keep [Dhaliwal] and our agency in your prayers,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote in a Facebook post.

A Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office deputy died after being shot in the head at a traffic stop Friday, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42, joined the office as its first Sikh deputy 10 years ago and pushed for more religious rights in his department, such as wearing religious attire like a turban and growing a beard while on patrol, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page shared a video from a local resident on Friday who said, “‘He laughed and joked with all of us, and left a bright impression on my son who is deaf. We send our condolences to his family and the law enforcement community.'”

“Deputy Dhaliwal is an incredible loss not only to our HCSO family but to the entire community,” the post continued.

Dhaliwal, a father of three, pulled over a vehicle around 12:45 p.m. near a traffic stop and had what appeared to be a normal conversation with the suspect, 47-year-old Robert Solis, who then shot Dhaliwal three times in the head as the officer was returning to his vehicle.

Solis — who had been previously convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated kidnapping and driving while intoxicated — was arrested and charged with capital murder, according to the Chronicle.

“There are no words to convey our sadness. Please keep [Dhaliwal] and our agency in your prayers,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote in a Friday Facebook post. (RELATED: Two 22-Year-Old Female Officers Shot And Killed Within Two Days)

Gonzalez told the Chronicle that Dhaliwal was “a hero, a trailblazer,” adding, “There are no words to speak to how heartbroken we are, how devastated.”

Dhaliwal, whose father was also a police officer, played a large role in the Sikh community in Texas and Sikh police officers, according to the Houston Chronicle.

After advocating for more religious rights at the sheriff’s office when he joined a decade ago, Dhaliwal was given permission to wear his turban on the job in 2015, when, at the time, the only two other departments in the country, Washington, D.C., and Riverside, California, allowed officers to do so, the Washington Post reported.

“Praying and standing with the family and [the Sikh community] of Harris County Sheriff Deputy [Dhaliwal], who was fatally shot today. He represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good. Evil you do not win here,” Harris County Mayor Sylvester Turner wrote on Facebook.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office also pointed to Dhaliwal’s charity work to remember his service to the community, such as the time he worked with a national Sikh group called United Sikhs to donate truck-sized loads of material to first responders after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas.

“Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was an extraordinary individual, after Hurricane Harvey, he collected supplies to help the community. [I]n this video, you can see him thanking United Sikhs for their donations. The entire Harris County Sheriff’s Office family is grieved by the tragic loss of our brother,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook along with a video.

A vigil was organized after news of his death reached Harris County residents.

“‪Our Harris County community loves their law enforcement officers. Not surprised to learn that a community-led vigil is being organized this evening to pay respects to Deputy Dhaliwal. He’s an incredible loss not only to our Harris County Sheriff’s Office family but to the entire community,” Garcia wrote on Facebook along with a photo of Dhaliwal hugging a young child.

An impromptu vigil was held Friday night to remember Dhaliwal.

Community-led candlelight vigil was held tonight in honor of [Harris County Sheriff’s Office] Deputy Dhaliwal. Please continue to keep his family & his [department] family in your thoughts & prayers. Deputy Dhaliwal was LOVED by this community,” Harris County Sheriff’s Office Major Mike Lee wrote on Twitter.

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