LODI (AP) — Two Northern California police officers were justified when they shot and killed a Gulf War veteran who allegedly charged at them with a knife, prosecutors concluded in a report released Tuesday.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office said Lodi police Corporal Scott Bratton and Officer Adam Lockie “acted reasonably” to protect themselves when they opened fire on Parminder Singh Shergill on Jan. 25.
The officers told investigators that Shergill, 43, charged at them with a knife when they attempted to talk to him near the home where he lived, according to the Bee.
Shergill’s family, who says Shergill was suffering from mental health problems, disputes that account and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in April accusing the officers of using excessive force. The shooting has also raised concerns in Lodi’s Sikh community, to which Shergill’s relatives belong. Lodi is about 90 miles east of San Francisco.
Attorney Mark Merin, who represents the family, said witnesses saw no knife in Shergill’s hand, and he didn’t lunge at officers.
“It’s disturbing to me that they would go out of their way to exonerate these officers from any liability,” Merin said. “They knew he was mentally ill. There’s protocol for dealing with the mentally ill.”
The officers were responding to a 911 call made by Shergill’s sister-in-law in which she tells a 911 dispatcher that Shergill is a paranoid schizophrenic who is “going crazy” and was attacking her mother-in-law inside the house. Shergill’s family has said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after participating in Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s.
Lodi police in May released a transcript of the 911 call, a picture of the knife they say Shergill carried the day he was shot and a history of visits by law enforcement to the Army veteran’s home.
Police have described the knife as 8 inches long and said that 14 shots were fired.