Robert Solis, who killed trailblazing Texas sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, is sentenced to death. In 2011, he fatally shot Dhaliwal, who had just served as the first openly gay police chief in the U.S., on his front porch because he felt threatened.
The Dallas County jury voted 5-4 on Thursday that he should be sentenced to die; there was no majority vote for life in prison. The state’s top prosecutor, Bill Hinojosa, appealed the verdict to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, arguing that the sentence violates a 2007 Texas law forbidding capital punishment as excessive or disproportionate to the offense. (Read the text of the law and what it means here).
At the center of the controversy is this: In the fall of 2012, Dhaliwal was leading the investigation into the theft of a truck. Dhaliwal had the truck, a truck driver, and a local police officer as suspects in the theft and had been investigating. He was about to interview the police officer and the driver when Solis, who had previously called the county jail multiple times to inquire about the officer’s status, showed up, claiming to be the driver.
The officer and the driver were not part of the theft investigation; instead, they were there because their truck had broken down and they were stuck at a gas station. Solis had been told by the officer that he was a suspect and was to be interviewed in the officer’s car.
When Solis arrived, the officer went to his patrol car and Dhaliwal was walking next door to the gas station. Solis followed him, and Dhaliwal walked out of view into a home. Solis got in Dhaliwal’s face, grabbed him by his arms, pulled him close to the house, and shot him five times from a distance of less than 10 feet.
The Dallas County district attorney’s office called the killing a “domestic act of violence” because Dhaliwal was on his front porch. Because of Dhaliwal’s sexuality, a district judge set conditions on a $400,000 bond for his arrest, including that he stay away from his “significant other.” Solis was jailed, though his bail condition was not enforced.
Solis then moved back across the street from Dhaliwal’s house