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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bellingham Police officer fired after accusations of assault

Officer Sukhdev Dhaliwal in his initial court appearance. // Illustration by Julia Furukawa

By Julia Furukawa and McKenna Hunt

Bellingham Police Chief David Doll took action Monday, May 7, 2018, firing Officer Sukhdev Dhaliwal following accusations of assault.

After obtaining security camera footage from a nearby business, Doll decided to fire officer Dhaliwal.

In a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Department report of the incident obtained by The Western Front, Detective Steve Roff detailed the arrest of officer Dhaliwal, on Oct. 18, 2017.

Officer Dhaliwal is accused of multiple counts of assault in the report.

One of the alleged victims, Kanwar Sidhu, 20, made a 911 call at 1:27 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 18, reporting that he had been kicked in the face and choked by two men, officer Dhaliwal and his brother, Jagdev Dhaliwal. Sidhu was with a friend, Manjot Singh Mann, 19, who also reported being assaulted.

According to the report, Sidhu told the responding officers, including Roff, that officer Dhaliwal had contacted his boss from a local trucking company, Northwest Carrier Logistics, on Portal Way in Blaine in order to set up a meeting between the two.

Sidhu told police he thought the intent behind the meeting was to discuss a former personal relationship between Sidhu and the sister of officer Dhaliwal.

Sidhu reported that after officer Dhaliwal reached out, he and Mann agreed to meet with the Dhaliwal brothers at Sidhu’s trucking company in Blaine, but the meeting quickly went south.

Sidhu wrote in his statement regarding the incident that he felt worried for his life.

He reported that officer Dhaliwal told him:

“I’m going to find you and kill you.”

Sidhu said that was when he made the 911 call.

Sidhu recounted the details of the altercation in the police report, stating he was physically assaulted by officer Dhaliwal.

He reported:

“I couldn’t breathe when [officer Dhaliwal] was choking me and I was worried he was going to kill me.”

Detective Steve Roff reported that Dhaliwal turned himself in to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 23, 2017, as per request of his attorney.

In deciding whether to take disciplinary action against officer Dhaliwal, Bellingham Police obtained surveillance camera footage from the trucking company, Northwest Carrier Logistics. The footage showed Dhaliwal and his brother physically assaulting Sidhu and Mann.

Immediately after the incident, officer Dhaliwal was put on paid administrative leave and has been paid a total of $43,261.80 since then, as well as $13,399.14 of additional compensation for vacation time, according to a Bellingham Herald Article.

The trials for the Dhaliwal brothers are currently scheduled for June 11, 2018, where the two will face charges of felony harassment, fourth-degree assault and second-degree assault.

Officer Dhaliwal has no previous criminal record and worked as a Whatcom County Jail deputy before becoming an officer for the Bellingham Police Department for two years, according to an article written by the Bellingham Herald.

In a previous interview with The Western Front, Chief Doll said he wants the Bellingham Police Department to focus on transparency and accountability.

“We are all in favor of anything we can do to be better,” Doll said.

In addition, Doll rejected a grievance filed by the Bellingham Police Guild in opposition to Dhaliwal’s firing, thus his termination will stand.

The Western Front will continue to report on this story as more information becomes available.




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