Trailblazing Texas deputy, first Sikh on Harris County force, fatally shot during traffic stop

A trailblazing deputy in Texas was fatally shot Friday while conducting a Friday afternoon traffic stop in Harris County, authorities said.

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Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42, of the Harris County Sheriff's Office, who became the first Sikh on the force a decade ago, "was unable to recover from his injuries," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters at a news conference.

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

Robert Solis, 47, was charged late Friday with capital murder in the case, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Dhaliwal joined the Harris County Sheriffs Office in 2008 as a detention officer and became a deputy four years later, according to KPRC.

Gonzalez said Dhaliwal was the first member of the Sikh community to become a Harris County Sheriff's deputy, KHOU reported. In 2015, the department ruled Dhaliwal could wear his turban and beard while on duty.

"As a Sikh American, I felt the need to represent the Sikh community in law enforcement," Dhaliwal told NBC News in 2015. "Serving in the police force is natural to us, as Sikhs value service."

Dhaliwal is survived by his wife and three children, KPRC reported.

According to Maj. Mike Lee of the Sheriff's office said Dhaliwal was conducting a traffic stop around 12:23 p.m., KTRK reported. Lee, citing a review of Dhaliwal's dash camera, said the deputy was speaking with the driver in a conversational tone with "no combat, no arguing," while the driver's door was open, the television station reported.

Dashcam footage showed Dhaliwal shutting the driver's door and turning to walk back to his patrol car, KTRK reported. The driver's door opened, and footage captured the deputy being shot in the back of the head, the television station reported.

The suspect returned to his vehicle and drove away.

Dhaliwal was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, KHOU reported.

"He was a hero, a trailblazer," Gonzalez said. "There are no words to speak to how heartbroken we are, how devastated."

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