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February 26, 2021

Deputy charged with staging drive-by shooting

A South Bay police officer who reported being shot almost exactly a year ago in a drive-by was arrested Jan. 29 for allegedly making up the whole story.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Sukhdeep Gill staged a “shocking ambush” to make it seem like he was struck by a bullet from a passing car on a dark rural road around Morgan Hill.

Responding officers reportedly found no serious injuries on Gill, however.

“It appeared he had been shot only once, and in a miraculous spot—his body-worn camera, which was destroyed,” according to a press release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. The deputy’s story “fell apart” during an investigation into the incident, the announcement went on to state.

Now, the five-year Sheriff’s Office veteran faces one count of felony vandalism and a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting a crime. If convicted, he could serve prison time. 

“This case is bewildering and deeply disappointing,” DA Jeff Rosen said in a news 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.”

Authorities from the DA’s and Sheriff’s Office say the incident took place around 10:30pm on Jan. 31, 2020, when Gill hit the emergency broadcast button on his department-issued radio and declared, “Shots fired! Shots fired!”

Officers from the Sheriff’s Office responded along with their counterparts from the San Jose, Morgan Hill and Gilroy police departments. Gill reportedly told the first officer who showed up that he had pulled over on the side of the road during a routine patrol to urinate. While walking back to his car, he allegedly said, he was shot at by someone from the passenger seat of a silver sedan that shut its lights off as it approached.

Per the DA, Gill said he fired two shots in return and that the vehicle fled down Uvas Road. “An investigation found evidence, including ballistics, that exposed serious discrepancies in the deputy’s account,” the DA’s press release stated.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Gill was placed on paid leave for the duration of the criminal and administrative investigations. The probe was eventually referred to the DA, which decided to file formal charges.

An arrest warrant was issued and served Jan. 29. Gill was reportedly booked into the Main Jail in San Jose “without incident,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“If the allegations hold true,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a bulletin sent to reporters about the arrest, “Deputy Gill’s actions are not representative of the upstanding men and women of the Sheriff’s Office who risk their lives every day to serve and protect our community with honesty and integrity.”

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