LODI, Calif. – The family of a man killed by Lodi police claim the shooting death of Parminder Singh Shergill was unjustified.
Dozens of mourners came together at a candlelight vigil at the Deshmesh Darbar Sikh Temple in Lodi Friday night.
"It's very difficult," Shergill's sister Kulbinder K. Sohota said. "I can't describe my words. How hard it is. How hard it is to accept."
Shergill, 43, was a veteran of the Gulf War. His family said he suffered from PTSD and depression.
His mother called police for help last Saturday during one of Shergill's episodes. When officers arrived at the scene, they shot and killed him. Lodi police said they were forced to shoot Shergill when he charged at them with a knife just outside his home.
His family said police were aware of Shergill's mental health problems and had taken him to the VA hospital before.
"He never brandished any weapon," civil rights attorney Mark Merin said. "And nobody saw a knife in his hands."
The family hired Merin, who has been conducting his own investigation into what happened. He said eyewitnesses saw officers try to stop Shergill, but he initially refused to turn around.
"He didn't turn around until, in front of his home, he turned around," Merin explained. "And put his hands up in the air and said, 'Don't shoot,' at which time he was killed."
Lodi police said they found a folding blade knife at the scene. Neither Shergill's family nor their attorney had an explanation for that.
Merin said his investigators found 14 casings at the scene.
"It just seems like a totally unjustified wanton waste of human life," Merin said.
The two officers were involved in the shooting: a 22-year veteran and a 15-year veteran to law enforcement. Their names are not being released. Police are staying tight-lipped about their investigation.
Family and friends question why police used lethal force.
"It doesn't need to take to shoot him," Sohota said. "They could have handled it some other ways."
Shergill's funeral with full military honors will be held Saturday, Feb. 8 at Cherokee Memorial park in Lodi.