WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The state House unanimously approved a bill Wednesday increasing the penalty for those who assault a law enforcement officer with a firearm, and doubling the death benefit for families of murdered officers.
House Bill 283, filed by Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus) is in honor of Jones’ friend and fallen North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Conner, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Columbus County in October 2018. The bill now moves on to the state Senate.
“I was very pleased with the outcome of the vote today,” said Rep. Jones. “I look forward to this bill becoming law in the very near future. This is a great step on protecting those who protect us.”
Trooper Conner’s wife and parents, along with troopers from the Highway Patrol, stood alongside lawmakers as Jones introduced the bill earlier this month.
“We’re trying to send a very clear message to criminals that if you go after our officers, we’re going after you,” Jones said.
The bill would change the penalty from a class E felony to class D for assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or parole officer. This would increase jail time from 15 to 63 months to 38 to 160 months. It would also require jail time for anyone convicted under North Carolina sentencing laws. It would also double the death benefit for the family of fallen officers to $200,000.