The one-year anniversary of the execution deaths of five Dallas police officers is just weeks away but the state of Texas has already responded by making it a hate crime to kill officers. The new law also applies to crimes against judges. The signing of the law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott comes just weeks after the passage of the Thin Blue Line Act by the U.S. House.
The Texas “Police Protection Act” (HB 2908) increases criminal penalties and punishment for an offense “committed against a person because of bias or prejudice on the basis of status as a peace officer or judge.”
Only one Texas legislator voted against the bill – Democrat Jarvis D. Johnson, a freshman Texas House representative from Houston.
A person who causes serious bodily injury to a peace officer or a judge while that person was in the discharge of their official duties would be guilty of a felony of the first degree if convicted. A felony of the first degree is punishable by 99 years to life in state prison but the sentence may not be less than five years. The person convicted can also be fined up to $10,000.
Moreover, if a person restrains a police officer or judge while they are lawfully discharging an official duty, “or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a peace officer or judge,” the person would be guilty of a felony of the second degree. The crime carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison but not less than two years. The possible fine is the same – up to $10,000.
The new law makes a terroristic threat made against a peace or judicial officer a crime punishable as a state jail felony if the person threatens to commit any offense involving violence with intent to place the officer in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. The offense was previously a Class A misdemeanor. The possible confinement now is not more than two years or less than 180 days. The possible fine remains $10,000.
Breitbart Texas reported about the execution-style deaths of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth, and the separate ambush of five Dallas officers. We provided livewire coverage of the tragic shootings and the aftermath when suspect Micah X. Johnson killed five police officers and wounded seven others in Dallas after the conclusion of a Black Lives Matter protest in July 2016. Johnson, a former New Black Panther Party member, said he “wanted to kill white people especially white officers.” Johnson was killed after officers used a robot to set off a bomb near him.
Breitbart Texas was also at the Waller County, Texas, jail for a Sandra Bland protest in August 2015 when a group of armed members of the New Black Panther Party marched chanting – “The revolution is on… Off the pigs,” and “Oink Oink… Bang Bang!”
Less than two weeks later, approximately 30 miles away from the jail, Deputy Darren Goforth was executed in cold blood. The deputy was gunned down from behind as he walked out of a gas station store in northwest Harris County in Houston. He was in uniform at the time and he was walking toward his patrol car. The deputy was shot 15 times in the back and in the back of the head. Then-Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, and the indictment against Shannon Miles, the black defendant who is suspected of killing him, stated that Deputy Goforth was killed just because he was a police officer.
Shortly after the Dallas police shootings, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the Police Protection Act. Abbott said he was going to ask the Texas Legislature to pass the law during the next session, reported Breitbart Texas. “While our state and the nation continue to mourn the heroes lost in Dallas, it is time for us to unite as Texans to say no more,” Governor Abbott said. “The men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to protect the public, and it is time we show them the State of Texas has their back. Texas will no longer tolerate disrespect for those who serve, and it must be made clear to anyone targeting our law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice.” Abbott declared, “At a time when law enforcement officers increasingly come under assault simply because of the job they hold, Texas must send a resolute message that the State will stand by the men and women who serve and protect our communities.”
Breitbart Texas reported in November 2015 that law enforcement officials suspected that retaliation was a possible motive in the shooting of a Travis County criminal district court judge. Judge Julie Kocurek was shot when she and some friends arrived at her home. A bag of trash or a garbage can had been placed in front of her security gate to her driveway and someone opened fire and shot the judge when the driver stopped and got out of the car to clear the pathway. Luckily, the judge survived.
The Police Protection Act will take effect on September 1 of 2017.