There was an outpouring of grief from many Americans over the killing of Lt. Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, an Indian-American Sikh police officer in Texas last week.
Lt. Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal put the Sikh imperative of selfless service on display for all and touched a nation with his example, a senior U.S. official said as family, friends and strangers gathered and prayed on September 28 at Dhaliwal’s memorial in northwest Harris County.
Dhaliwal was the first Indian-American police officer in Texas and had made headlines when he was allowed to grow a beard and wear a turban on the job in the US State of Texas. The 42-year-old was gunned down while conducting a routine mid-day traffic stop in northwest of Houston on September 27.
Dhaliwal’s youngest sister Ranjeet Kaur joined the crowd and lit a candle for her brother. She remembered a man who loved his job.
“He was a really great person. He didn’t deserve all this. He was a great person. He helped everybody. He never said no. He does as much as he can. I think this was the wrong time and the wrong place,” Kaur was quoted as saying by a US news channel.
A 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s office, Dhaliwal was taken by helicopter to a hospital where he died, a decade after becoming the force’s first Sikh and pushing for a historic expansion of religious rights in the department.
Dhaliwal worked with United Sikhs, a global humanitarian relief and advocacy nonprofit, to help organise the donation of truckloads of supplies for first responders after Hurricane Harvey.
“Sandeep was a trailblazer for the Sikh-American community. He served not just the Sikh community here in Houston with honour and dignity, but all of his community,” Bobby Singh, south-east regional director for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund said.
Houston mayor Sylvester Turner called Dhaliwal “a bold and groundbreaking law enforcement officer in the eyes of our county, our state, our nation“.
While Texas senator Ted Cruz said the state was “mourning a hero“.
“Community-led candlelight vigil was held tonight in honour of Deputy Dhaliwal. Please continue to keep his family & his Texas family in your thoughts & prayers. Deputy Dhaliwal was LOVED by this community,” County Major Mike Lee said in a tweet.
Starting as a detention officer in his late twenties, Dhaliwal, a father of three, was promoted to a deputy in 2015.
“A grateful community remembers fallen Texas Deputy Dhaliwal. This makeshift memorial is growing as a steady flow of people have come from throughout the community to show their support. Deputy Dhaliwal loved serving this community and they loved him back,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted.