Police accounts of shooting of U.S. Army veteran suffering PTSD conflict with eyewitness testimony
Lodi: Jan. 31, 2014 – Based on conflicting reports of the events leading up to Lodi, CA police officers shooting to death US Army veteran Parminder Singh Shergill, 43, on Saturday morning, the San Joaquin County Sikh community is demanding a comprehensive investigation to uncover any possible misconduct.
Shergill, who served in the first Gulf War, was reportedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His mother, concerned for her son and seeking his admission into a Veterans’ Affairs hospital, called police early Saturday morning to request their assistance. Police claim Shergill was holding a knife and standing outside his family home when they arrived on scene. Lt. Sierra Brucia, a spokesperson for Lodi Police Department, says, “The man charged at the officers, and they had no choice but to shoot.” An eyewitness to the scene, however, tells a very different story, claiming Shergill did not charge officers and may have even been moving away from them when they opened fire.
The Sikh community will hold a candlelight vigil for Shergill at Deshmesh Darbar Gurdwara Sahib, Lodi on Friday evening. The family has hired an attorney, Jack Johal of Sacramento, to press for an investigation. “Instead of a doctor, Shergill got a dozen bullets,” said Jasbir S. Sohal, president of the Lodi Gurdwara. “It is disturbing that police accounts of the incident differ from the objective accounts of eyewitnesses, who state that Shergill did not charge police, as they say, but was actually walking away from them. We demand an immediate investigation of the conduct of the officers involved in this tragic killing. Is this another situation like the killing of Keith Vidal in North Carolina, whose parents called police to help their son, who came and shot him instead?”
Vidal was an 18-year-old from Boiling Spring Lake, NC, who suffered from schizophrenia. On January 5, when Vidal experience a schizophrenic episode, his parents called police, hoping they would help subdue the boy to get him to the hospital. When police arrived, they found Vidal holding a screwdriver; like with Shergill, however, he did not threaten anyone with the object. Police demanded he drop the screwdriver, Vidal retreated, and police joined the boy’s step-father, Mark Wilsey, in successfully subduing him. However, once Vidal was subdued, one newly-arrived officer said, “We don’t have time for this,” drew his gun and opened fire, killing the 90-pound, mentally ill boy.
Wilsey, in news reports, stated: “Everything was fine. There was no escalation. Nobody threatened anybody….. There was no reason for deadly force. There was two cops on top of my son. I was there to assist the cops. This guy, from behind me, shot this young little boy for no reason. There was no danger…. [The officer] reached right up and shot this kid point blank, with all intent to kill him. He just murdered him, flat out.”
Shergill graduated from Lodi High School in 1989 and joined the Army, assigned to the infantry division. After spending two years in Germany, he served in Iraq during the Gulf War. He served in the Army until 1995, when he was dishonorably discharged. A graduate of California Statue University, Sacramento, where he studied biochemistry and electrical engineering, at the time of his death Shergill worked at Pacific Coast Producers as a control room operator.
Neighbors reported seeing Shergill taking frequent walks in the local park and described him as friendly and easy to talk to. Johal, the family’s attorney, says Shergill devoted himself to his Sikh faith after returning from the war in Iraq. “Everybody in the neighborhood knew him,” said Johal. “Not a single neighbor said he was angry or mean in any way. All in all, he was a very honest, quiet and nice person,” Johal said. “After serving his country, it’s just shocking all this has come down.”