On September 1st, 2023, Texas officially enacted the Richard Houston II Act, a momentous piece of legislation designed to provide enhanced protections for peace officers and firefighters. This important development comes in the wake of the tragic loss of Mesquite Police Department Officer Richard Lee Houston II, a dedicated law enforcement professional whose life was cut short in the line of duty on December 3, 2021.
Officer Houston, a resident of Forney, Texas, met his untimely end when he was the first to arrive at the scene of a domestic disturbance in the city of Mesquite. The incident involved 38-year-old Jaime Jaramillo, his wife, his daughter, and a woman rumored to be having an affair with him. Testimonies provided during Jaramillo's trial in Dallas County shed light on the harrowing events that unfolded that fateful day.
Dashcam and body-worn camera footage presented during the trial offered a chilling account of the events. Officer Houston approached Jaramillo's truck in the Albertson's parking lot as Jaramillo attempted to reverse out of a parking spot. Without warning, Jaramillo shifted the truck into forward gear, opened his door, and fired multiple shots at Officer Houston. The bullets struck Houston once in his bullet-proof vest, once in the leg, and once near his collarbone, with the latter shot tragically ricocheting into Houston's heart and lungs before exiting his lower back.
During the ordeal, it was revealed that Jaramillo fired four shots before Officer Houston was able to draw his own weapon and return fire with four shots of his own. Ultimately, Jaramillo turned the gun on himself, inflicting a gunshot wound to his head, an injury he miraculously survived.
Officer Richard Lee Houston II began his journey in law enforcement on January 8, 2001, when he joined the Mesquite Police Department after graduating as Valedictorian from Session 153 of the Basic Course in Applied Police Science. Throughout his distinguished career, he served in various capacities, including as a Patrol Officer in the Operations Bureau, a dedicated member of the SWAT Team for over a decade, and a proficient investigator handling cases related to Burglary and Theft, Homeland Security, and Juvenile/Gang matters, according to the Mesquite Police Department. His commitment to excellence in his profession was further underscored by his attainment of a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Master Peace Officer License and Instructor Proficiency Certificate.
The tragic loss of Officer Richard Lee Houston II has left an indelible mark on the Texas law enforcement community. The Richard Houston II Act, now enshrined in Texas law, is a testament to his legacy and the sacrifices made by first responders like him.
"The Mesquite Police Department is forever grateful for the hard work of all involved in bringing this change to Texas Law, namely the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.", posted Mesquite PD to its facebook page.
Below is an excerpt from the act:
S.B. No. 386
relating to the prosecution of a capital murder committed against a
peace officer or fireman.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the Richard Houston II
SECTION 2. Section 19.03, Penal Code, is amended by adding
Subsection (d) to read as follows:
(d) For purposes of Subsection (a)(1), the actor is presumed
to have known the person murdered was a peace officer or fireman if
the person was wearing a distinctive uniform or badge indicating
the person's employment as a peace officer or fireman.
SECTION 3. The change in law made by this Act applies only
to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act.
An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is
governed by the law in effect on the date the offense was committed,
and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2023.