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Santa Clara County Sheriff's Deputy Arrested; Accused Of Faking His Own Shooting

MORGAN HILL (KPIX) -- A deputy with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office was arrested and charged Friday with fabricating an ambush against himself as he stood on a dark, rural road last January.

Arrested SCC Deputy Sukhdeep Gill
Arrested SCC Deputy Sukhdeep Gill (Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)

Deputy Sukhdeep Gill, 27, surrendered at the sheriff's office Friday afternoon after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Gill faces a charge of felony vandalism and a misdemeanor for filing a police report for allegedly staging the ambush in which he claimed a silver sedan approached him with its light off before several shots were fired toward Gill's direction in unincorporated Morgan Hill.

"It was an unprovoked attack, it was an ambush," Sheriff Laurie Smith said during a news conference shortly after the incident.

Gill's frantic call over his police radio resulted in several agencies responding to the scene as they went on a manhunt for a suspect who they believe intended to kill a law enforcement officer.

Even more shocking, Gill said his body camera took a bullet that would have penetrated his chest.

But as investigators began delving into what happened, the district attorney's office said they found discrepancies with the evidence, including the ballistics recovered.

"The facts weren't adding up," said Sgt. Michael Low. "Anytime we have an instance like this that hurts our reputation and our trust with the community, it's tough," Low added. "We are disappointed."

"The obvious question becomes, 'Why would an officer do something like this?'" said legal analyst and former Santa Clara county deputy district attorney Steven Clark. "Why would you concoct a story that good detectives are going to unravel."

Gill was hired with the sheriff's office in 2015 as a correctional officer and switched to patrol two years later.

"Officers responding to this call thought they were going to the scene of a potential cop killing. That's a very difficult mindset for these officers and it could've resulted in very tragic outcomes and innocent people could've died," Clark said.

He added that this is a case of public mistrust that could have a ripple effect. Gill is now on administrative leave pending internal and criminal investigations.

"I think the big mystery here moving forward is what information was on that body camera, why did he destroy that, that's a question that police are going to want answers to," Clark said. "Every one of the cases he's worked on now to this point will be looked at and are in jeopardy because his credibility is called into question."

A statement from the sheriff's office said, "If the allegations hold true, 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."

Gill maintains his innocence, according to his attorney Nicole Pifari.

"We're looking forward to getting our hands on the investigation and the evidence so we can understand why charges are being pursued," Pifari said.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS SF's Carlos Castañeda and Dave Pehling contributed to this report

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