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Family says Lodi police should have ‘avoided deadly force’

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Parminder Singh Shergill

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 12:26 pm | Updated: 7:15 am, Fri Jan 31, 2014.

The family of a Lodi man who was shot and killed by Lodi officers say police were aware he suffered from a mental illness, and they should have used non-lethal force when they encountered him on Saturday.

The family, who have scheduled a press conference for today, said that they have spoken with multiple witnesses to the shooting who say the victim never threatened the officers, as the Lodi Police Department has stated.

“Our investigation is turning up quite a different story than (Lodi) police were putting out there initially,” said Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin, who is representing the victim’s family.

Parminder Singh Shergill, a 43-year-old U.S. Army veteran with an engineering degree, was shot and killed by two Lodi police officers who responded to a disturbance call at 9:06 a.m. on Elderica Way.

Police said Shergill was armed with a knife and charged at the officers, forcing them to open fire.

Lodi police have released few details so far and have yet to confirm the size or type of knife, the number of shots fired, how close officers were standing to Shergill or the names of the officers involved.

Shergill’s family is now asking questions, and they hope that publicizing the information they have found will encourage the Lodi Police Department to provide more answers.

“What we want to know is what happened,” Merin said. “The unfortunate thing is that (the Lodi Police Department) is stonewalling.”

Merin, in a statement released Thursday, said witnesses to the shooting recall that Shergill “did not threaten the officer(s), brandish a weapon or charge at them.”

Merin added that officers fired as many as 14 rounds while standing between 10 and 20 feet from Shergill, according to witnesses.

When contacted Thursday, Lodi Police Department spokesman Lt. Sierra Brucia said the investigation is ongoing and he could not comment at this time.

Merin described Shergill as a “gentle, friendly man,” adding that he was a veteran of the Gulf War in Iraq in the early 1990s, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Merin said the Lodi Police Department was aware of Shergill’s mental health conditions, for which he was receiving treatment at a Veterans Administration hospital. A neighbor of Shergill’s told the Lodi News-Sentinel that Lodi police had responded approximately four times in seven years to his home for calls regarding his mental health issues.

Merin said, “... if (Lodi police) had legitimate reasons to detain him, they certainly should have used methods that would have avoided deadly force.”

Shergill’s family will hold a candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. tonight in front of Deshmesh Darbar Sikh Temple in Lodi. At a press conference that will follow the vigil, the family will share additional findings of an independent investigation and ask the Lodi Police Department to release more of their own findings, Shergill said.

“Let the community know what’s going on,” Merin said. “And if they don’t, then the community is left to think the cops have something to hide.”

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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