Alabama House passes bill making murder of on-duty first responder a capital offense
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed HB 59, a bill sponsored by State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) that would make killing an on-duty first responder a capital offense.
The vote was 94-0.
The bill adds on-duty first responders to the list of murder victims that constitutes a capital offense. State law already makes the murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer or prison guard a capital offense. Capital offenses in Alabama are punishable by life in prison or death.
Sells’ bill would also add on-duty law enforcement officers, prison guards and first responders as victims in the list of aggravating circumstances to a capital offense. This would make the death penalty more likely in the sentencing phase of this kind of capital offense.
In HB 59, first responders are defined as emergency medical services personnel licensed by the Alabama Department of Public Health and firefighters and volunteer firefighters as defined by existing state law.
Sells told Yellowhammer News, “I’m excited it went through as [quickly] as it did.”
The bill now goes to the Senate. Sells has sponsored this bill the past two legislative sessions, ever since the infamous deadly 2016 ambush of police officers in Dallas, TX. Last year, it passed the House and was the next bill up on the Senate calendar for a vote when the chamber adjourned sine die.
He told Yellowhammer News he has a different strategy of getting it through the Senate this year and is optimistic the bill will ultimately receive final passage by that chamber.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn