- He is accused of staging a scene in which he claimed he was shot from a passing car as he stood on a dark rural road.
Sukhdeep Gill, a deputy at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested and charged for allegedly staging a “shocking ambush.” According to a press release from the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, last year, Gill staged a scene in which he said he was shot from a passing car as he stood on a dark rural road near Morgan Hill, a city at the southern tip of Silicon Valley.
The 27-year-old Gill, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2016, was arrested on Jan. 29, and charged with felony vandalism and falsely reporting a crime, a misdemeanor. He was released on his own recognizance and has a court appearance scheduled for March 1.
“This case is bewildering and deeply disappointing,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in the press release. “Deputy Gill’s actions abused the trust of his fellow officers and diverted public safety resources away from protecting the community to investigate a made-up crime.”
On Jan. 31, 2020, Gill reported that “he was shot from a passing car as he stood on a dark rural road,” the press release said. Gill told the first officer on scene that he had parked on the dirt shoulder to urinate during a routine patrol. While walking back towards the driver side of his patrol car he was shot at by the passenger in a silver sedan that had turned off its lights as it approached him. Gill said he fired two shots towards the suspect vehicle, which fled on a local road.
“An investigation found evidence, including ballistics, that exposed serious discrepancies” in Gill’s account, the press release said. When officers responded, no serious injuries were found on Gill and it appeared that he had been shot only once on his body camera, which was destroyed, the press release said. Gill’s report triggered a manhunt for the alleged shooter.
Gill’s lawyer Nicole Pifari told news outlets that her client has been placed on administrative leave pending criminal and administrative investigations. “For now, all I can say is we are looking forward to getting our hands on the investigation and the evidence to understand why these charges are being pursued,” Pifari said in a statement. She said Gill will not be able to enter a plea until he is arraigned next month.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the charges. The group which represents the county’s deputies said the charges “can have a tremendous impact on community trust” but “are not reflective of the vast majority of law enforcement officers and deputies.” They said Gill was entitled to due process and the opportunity to defend himself against the allegations.