SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A candlelight vigil was held in San Jose on Wednesday night for a sheriff deputy from Texas who was killed in the line of duty.
42-year-old Sandeep Dhaliwal was laid to rest in Houston after he was gunned down during a traffic stop last week. The deputy was known as a trailblazer in the Sikh community.
Music, prayers and candles filled the entrance of the Sikh Gudwara in San Jose. More than 100 people gathered to celebrate the life of Texas sheriff deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.
“This is probably the first Sikh law enforcement who has been shot dead in the line of duty,” said Sukhdev Bainiwal of the Sikh Gudwara San Jose.
Even though the 10-year veteran worked in Texas, Dhaliwal was known throughout the nation as a trailblazer in a turban. He was the first Sikh deputy to proudly wear an article of his faith along with a badge.
“He wanted to create a bridge between the other communities and the Sikh,” said Bainiwal. “He had seen where some of the hate crimes after September 11 had happened with the Sikh community because of the turban.”
The Sikhs in San Jose organized Wednesday’s vigil. Many of them met Dhaliwal when he visited the Bay Area last summer for charitable work to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“He was my brother in arms and we all come from a small region so we are all pretty tight,” said Sgt. Hartaj Johal of San Jose Police.
Johal saw him as a brother in blue and a brother in the Sikh faith.
“He was doing what he was supposed to do and in doing so he lost his life and gave up his life for the community he served. It’s tough,” said Sgt. Johal.
“The law enforcement community is hurting, the Sikh community is hurting,” said Milpitas Police Chief Armando Corpuz.
Some Bay Area police officers flew to Houston for Dhaliwal's funeral including a Milpitas police officer who knew Dhaliwal well. The Milpitas police chief hopes Dhaliwal's life will serve as a model for others.
“You are going to look around and see many people here talking about a man who did good for society and maybe we can look to be like him,” said Chief Corpuz.