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Santa Clara County deputy charged with faking his own shooting

Sukhdeep Gill's body camera.
Sukhdeep Gill’s body camera. Gill, a Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy, said someone fired at him from a passing car, striking his body camera. He was charged Friday with making up the story.
(Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office)

A Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy was charged Friday with staging his own shooting on a dark rural road one year ago, a case the county’s district attorney called “bewildering and deeply disappointing.”

At 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2020, Deputy Sukhdeep Gill pressed an emergency broadcast button on his radio and, according to the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, exclaimed, “Shots fired! Shots fired!”

Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the San Jose, Morgan Hill and Gilroy police departments responded to a stretch of Uvas Road in unincorporated Morgan Hill.

Gill, who has been with the department since 2016, told the first officer on the scene that he had pulled onto the dirt shoulder of the road to urinate and was walking back to his patrol car when a silver sedan began driving toward him with its lights off.

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Gill told the officer a passenger in the sedan opened fire, striking his body-worn camera but somehow leaving him unscathed. He said he fired two shots at the fleeing car.

Gill’s account of the incident triggered a manhunt, and Sheriff Laurie Smith called a news conference to denounce what she called “an unprovoked attack — an ambush.” Sheriff’s officials said three bullets had also struck Gill’s patrol call.

Citing the fact that Gill, a Sikh, wore a traditional headdress while on duty, Lt. Brendan Omori told reporters the Sheriff’s Office wasn’t sure if the shooting amounted to a hate crime or “just a crime of opportunity against law enforcement.”

A full year later, Santa Clara County prosecutors concluded it was neither: Gill himself staged the shooting, they said Friday in announcing the 27-year-old deputy had been arrested and charged with felony vandalism and a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting a crime.

Gill has been placed on administrative leave, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Jeff Rosen, the Santa Clara County district attorney, said Gill had “abused the trust of his fellow officers and diverted public safety resources away from protecting the community to investigate a made-up crime.”

Nicole Pifari, Gill’s attorney, wrote in an email that she was disappointed in the charges and is looking forward to reviewing the evidence “so we can understand why they were filed.”

Detectives from Gill’s own agency investigated the purported shooting and determined it hadn’t happened the way he had told it, the Sheriff’s Office said.

In a statement, the district attorney’s office said ballistics and other unspecified evidence exposed “serious discrepancies” in the deputy’s story.


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