Killing of Army Veteran Leads Sikh Attorney to Run for DA

Sutter County district attorney candidate Kulvinder Singh said, “There is so much more to the county prosecutor’s office that involves policy, and that should include policing the police.”

The “tipping point” that propelled attorney Kulvinder Singh to decide to run for district attorney of Sutter County in Northern California was the Jan. 25 shooting and killing by two police officers in Lodi in San Joaquin County of Sikh American Gulf War U.S. Army veteran Parminder Singh Shergill, 43, who officers claimed brandished a knife at a neighborhood park (I-W, Feb. 7).

Parminder Singh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. His family has filed a tort claim to find out more about the case and members of the state Senate and Assembly have asked local authorities in Lodi to speed up their investigation, which officials said could take up to a year.

DA candidate Singh, who lives in Yuba City in Sutter County and runs his law firm from an office in Roseville in Placer County, has questions about that incident and also about other police-involved shootings in Sutter County, he told India-West.

“I wondered, why not taser them?” he said in an e-mail. “There were also at least four people shot dead in Sutter County in the past few years, and silence from the prosecutor’s office, until the investigation was concluded, and it was exoneration, with the killing[s] being justified,” the Indian American candidate said.

According to the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Singh is one of four candidates who have announced their candidacies or who have taken out petitions to run in the California primary June 3 for the seat left vacant after the retirement of Sutter County District Attorney Carl Adams.

The others are interim Sutter County DA Jana McClung, Amanda Hopper and Jennifer Dupré, all three women prosecutors. 

(In December, Adams, McClung and another prosecutor were sued in federal court by a former worker in the office, who claimed she was sexually harassed after she reported that funds from California’s Victim Witness program had been diverted improperly to the DA’s office. The money was later returned to the state.)

Singh, who has lived in the Yuba City-Roseville area for 25 years, attended the University of Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and has an MBA from Sacramento State University.

“Having practiced law for 18 years,” he said in a statement, “I have (the) breadth and depth of experience not shared by any other candidate. My law practice included criminal matters to a verdict by a jury and conflict resolution in civil cases by mediation.”

“There is so much more to the county prosecutor’s office that involves policy, and that should include policing the police,” he added.

“Punjabis and Hispanics are now dominant cultural groups (in Sutter County) and their languages are spoken by many in the county, making Sutter County one of the most diverse in the nation,” the Indian American candidate said.

“Where are the Punjabi and Hispanic assistant district attorneys? Sheriff’s deputies? Sikhs hold service in the military and (are held) in high regard, but there are no visible Sikh men in law enforcement in an area where they are over 15 percent of the local population. What is keeping them from service now?” he asked.

Singh pointed out to India-West that, if elected, he would not be the first Punjabi American DA in Sutter County.

G. Dave Teja, half-white and half-Punjabi, who passed away Aug. 7, 2010, was elected Sutter County DA in 1962. Teja, an attorney and former police officer in the Marysville Police Department, in the 1970s prosecuted and convicted the notorious Juan Corona, who was convicted of murdering 25 itinerant laborers in Sutter County.  

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