October 15, 2019
By Beau Brittain, Jersey Village HS
Oct. 15, 2019—As news of the death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal came out, many Houstonians began expressing their love and mourning for the fallen deputy and his family. Community members looked for a connection to the admired deputy, and at Jersey Village High School, alumni remembered him as a Falcon in the late 1990s.
Dhaliwal was seen as a trailblazer in law enforcement, as he was the first member of the Sikh community to join the HCSO. His family moved to the United States when he was a child and Dhaliwal attended Jersey Village. He was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 27 during a traffic stop.
Upon hearing the tragic news, Sergio Martinez Jr., who attended Jersey Village and later Cypress Falls High School, decided to honor the fallen officer in his own special way.
Martinez works as an artist and paints portraits. He painted three portraits of Dhaliwal, each taking around four hours to complete.
“I felt painting him is the least I could do for the family when I painted for his vigil,” Martinez said, “because I felt it could bring comfort to the family in a time of need.”
While Martinez did not know Dhaliwal personally – only the occasional encounters in the lunch line at Jersey Village – he still felt a connection to the fallen deputy. Martinez’s brother has served in law enforcement.
“My brother is a 25-year Houston Police Department police officer, so I take this situation to heart, and I heard over my police scanner app on my phone,” Martinez said. “A friend on [Facebook] mentioned the high school he attended and that’s when I [saw] we were the same age and realized we both attended JV at the same time.”
One portrait places Dhaliwal in front of an American flag. This one was symbolic, and Martinez felt this one was especially important.
“I had to have the American flag because he had America on his back, and now America will be here for him,” Martinez said.
News of Martinez’s act quickly gained attention. Dhaliwal’s family learned of the portraits, and during a candlelight vigil, reached out to Martinez after a small exchange. He was invited by the family the next day to visit with them at their home, which included the opportunity to meet Dhaliwal’s three children. Family members thanked Martinez for the heartwarming memorials of Dhaliwal.
The portrait with the American flag will be donated to Dhaliwal’s partner, while his sister will receive one showcasing a profile of his face. Martinez said the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has approached him about producing another portrait to showcase in the department.
“I really want artwork to capture the great man the community lost and hope to keep his legacy alive through my artwork,” Martinez said. “He deserves it, the family deserves it and I plan to make sure he is never forgotten.”