A police officer faces going to prison for staging a drive-by shooting in what fellow officers have described as a "bewildering case".
Deputy Sukhdeep Gill, of Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office in the US, claimed he was shot from a passing car as he stood on a dark rural road near Morgan Hill.
At approximately 10.32pm on January 31, 2020, the deputy hit the emergency broadcast button on his department-issued radio and broadcast: “Shots fired! Shots fired!”
Officers responded from the Sheriff’s Office as well as the San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy police departments.
The deputy told the first officer on the 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.
The deputy said he fired two shots towards the suspect vehicle, which fled on Uvas Road.
Police say an investigation found evidence, including ballistics, that exposed serious discrepancies in the deputy’s account.
Responding police found no serious injuries on Deputy Gill.
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Police say that it appeared he had been shot only once in a "miraculous" spot – his body-worn camera, which was destroyed.
The incident triggered a manhunt for the shooter but, the 27-year-old deputy’s story fell apart during an intensive investigation.
Now Gill – who has been with the Sheriffs’ Office since 2016 – is charged with felony vandalism and falsely reporting a crime, a misdemeanor.
Felony vandalism convictions can result in up to one year in county jail and Gill faces incarceration if convicted.
He was arrested almost exactly a year after the incident, on January 29, 2021, after a warrant was issued.
Gill had been placed on administrative leave pending criminal and administrative investigations, according to the sheriff's office.
“This case is bewildering and deeply disappointing,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “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.”
Gill's attorney, Nicole Pifari, issued a brief statement that said, "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."
According to the sheriff's office website, Gill has a court appearance scheduled for Monday.
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