Harminder Grewal

Galt Police Officer Harminder Grewal

On Aug. 26, four days after a car crash outside Elk Grove sent him and his partner to the hospital, Galt Police Officer Harminder Grewal died of his injuries.

A procession on Aug. 27 transported Grewal’s remains from Kaiser Permanente’s South Sacramento hospital to Lodi. An impromptu vigil on the following night allowed community members to reflect on their memories of the fallen officer, who had served with the department since 2019.

On the morning of the 27th, first responders and ordinary citizens crowded overpasses from Elk Grove to Galt to Lodi, to view the procession. Police officers flashed their lights and firefighters saluted from atop their engines.

Led by California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers, the procession included members of the Galt and Lodi police departments, and the Cosumnes Fire Department.

When the procession reached the Cherokee Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Lodi, Grewal’s American flag-draped casket was lifted from an ambulance as the surrounding officers saluted.

Grewal and fellow Galt Officer Kapri Herrera were hospitalized on Aug. 22 after being involved in a head-on crash with a Dodge pickup truck on Highway 99 near Dillard Road, south of Elk Grove. The officers had been driving north to assist communities impacted by the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County. Grewal was 27 years old.

The truck driver died in the crash, and the two passengers were injured.

At a press conference following the procession, Lt. Brian Kalinowski, Galt Police Officers Association President Michael Little and Interim Police Chief Richard Small spoke, a group of Galt officers standing behind them.

“This is tough for the entire organization. It’s important that members of the public hear from our organization,” Kalinowski said. “Many members of our department are standing here because they are all affected by officer Grewal, his leadership in the organization, and the impact he not only had to this department, but this community.”

A candlelight vigil held the next evening in the Galt police station’s parking lot gave people who had known and worked with Grewal an opportunity to talk about who he was as a person.

They painted a picture of a man who brightened up others’ days with his sense of humor and helped his fellow officers navigate cultural differences, all while proudly maintaining an iconic mustache.

“His mustache was everyone’s favorite. … The way he took such miraculous care of that thing, with special brushes and all that,” Little told the assembled crowd.

“He gave us a lot of firsts here,” Little continued. “He was our first Punjabi officer. He translated for us on numerous calls.”

Speakers brought up Grewal’s passion for memes, which Little said were posted in the department on “the Wall of Morale.”

Tracy Police Officer Jasper Juan and four other officers who had attended police academy with Grewal came up. Juan recalled Grewal’s memes as well.

“You don’t think about those little things, and I’ve noticed from the past week it’s the little things that kind of make you happy, that make you feel good,” Juan said.

Back at the press conference, Small had reflected on the way forward after Grewal’s death.

“How do you move forward after something like this occurs?” he said. “I think the only answer is just what’s been happening so far.

“The strength of the family, the courage of the family has encouraged us. I think our officers and our community have coalesced around us. And I think that provides the strength and support that we need to start to deal with the trauma of what we’ve gone through. I don’t think this is something you ever get over, but I think it’s something you learn to honor and, I guess, heal with over time.”