Houston Officer William 'Bill' Jeffrey represents HPD's 120th death since 1860

Houston PD and surrounding agencies, including Harris County Sheriff's Office, among those suffering losses in recent years.

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Monday, September 20, 2021
HPD officers killed in line of duty honored with day of prayer
In this video from May 2021, Chief Troy Finner, who was newly named to the top Houston Police Department role at the time, reflected on the on-duty deaths throughout HPD's history.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the death of Senior Officer William "Bill" Jeffrey during a warrant service, the Houston Police Department is once again confronting a loss within its ranks.

And tragically, it marks HPD's fifth on-duty death within the last 16 months.

Jeffrey died on Sept. 20 while he and fellow HPD Major Offenders Division officer, Sgt. Michael Vance, were serving a narcotics warrant in northeast Harris County. Vance was also wounded, but is expected to survive.

Nevertheless, Jeffrey, who was days away from his 31 years with Houston police, marks the 120th HPD officer who died in the line of the duty since 1860.

Jeffrey's passing is also a great loss within the larger Houston-area law enforcement community beyond HPD. We're looking back to the notable on-duty deaths that occurred within the last two years.


Officer Ernest Leal Jr.

Before Jeffrey, Senior Officer Leal was Houston Police Department's most recent death. The 36-year veteran died from coronavirus complications and is considered an on-duty passing.

Leal, 60, died on Nov. 27, 2020.

WATCH: Officer Leal's full memorial service

Ernest Leal Jr. died due to COVID-19 after serving the City of Houston for more than three decades.

Sgt. Sean Rios

On Nov. 9, 2020, Sgt. Sean Rios was headed to the airport when he was involved in a shootout with a suspect in north Houston.

After being shot, Rios ran into the Taj Inn & Suites motel looking for help and collapsed. He was declared dead at the scene.

A witness at the scene who heard the gunshots told ABC13 he saw the officer running toward the motel searching for help.

"He was just bleeding everywhere, all over, and just not running right. He entered the office at the motel and he collapsed right in there," the witness said.

Rios was a 25-year member of the Houston Police Department. He leaves behind four kids ages 17, 14, 12 and 9; as well as his parents, a brother, and two cousins, who are HPD detectives.

WATCH: HPD Sgt. Sean Rios' body arrives at medical examiner's office

Houston police pay a respectful salute to the life of Sgt. Sean Rios, who died in what Chief Art Acevedo called a "gun battle" with a suspect. The video offers a look at the solemn moment his brothers and sisters in HPD paid to the fallen sergeant.

Sgt. Harold Preston

A 41-year veteran of HPD, Sgt. Harold Preston was preparing to retire from the force this year, but his plans were shattered when he was shot and killed Oct. 20, 2020.

Preston and officer Courtney Waller were responding to a domestic violence call in southwest Houston. When Preston, Waller and another officer arrived to the scene, the estranged wife of the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Elmer Manzano, told them she was moving out and wanted to retrieve items from the apartment.

The woman said the door was locked and Manzano wouldn't let her in. Officers spoke with her for an hour.

Manzano's 14-year-old son, who was with the woman in the parking lot, managed to unlock the door and open it.

The son saw that Manzano had a gun and told officers. That's when Manzano fired multiple rounds, hitting Waller and Preston, Acevedo said.

Waller was hit in the shoulder area and a bullet was embedded in his spine. Preston died after being shot multiple times. He was laid to rest on Oct. 30, 2020.

WATCH: Fallen HPD sergeant laid to rest in north Texas

Sgt. Harold Preston, a 41 year veteran of the Houston Police Department, was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 20.

Officer Jason Knox

HPD officer Jason Knox died in May 2020 in a police helicopter crash. Knox and HPD helicopter pilot Chase Cormier were searching the bayou for a drowning victim when their helicopter went down near Greens Bayou.

Knox was an 8-year veteran of HPD. He was a tactical flight officer who joined the Air and Marine Division of HPD in January 2019. Prior to that, Knox served as a Harris County deputy constable.

WATCH: Some of the moments remembering Houston Police Officer Jason Knox

Watch some of the moments remembering Houston Police Officer Jason Knox.

Sgt. Christopher Brewster

Houston police Sgt. Christopher Brewster was killed in Dec. 2019 while responding to a domestic disturbance call on Avenue L. When Brewster arrived at the scene, the couple had left the location, but were found walking in the 7400 block of Avenue L. Brewster came under fire as soon as he tried to exit his patrol cruiser, according to then - HPD Chief Art Acevedo.

Arturo Solis, 25, was the suspected shooter, Acevedo said at the time. Solis has a lengthy criminal history, including a charge of assault causing bodily injury.

Brewster was hit multiple times but still managed to draw his weapon and radio a description of the suspect to other responding officers.

Brewster's death was the first line-of-duty fatality involving a Houston-area law enforcement officer since Harris County Sheriff's deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was ambushed during a traffic stop in Sept. 2019.

WATCH: Remembering Chris Brewster: An officer and an athlete

While he was known as a towering law enforcement officer, Chris Brewster was also a beloved athlete.


HFD arson investigator Lemuel Bruce

In October 2020, the Houston Fire Department lost an arson investigator who was conducting surveillance during an arson investigation in the Heights.

Authorities say Lemuel Bruce got into a confrontation with a suspect where they exchanged gunfire. The suspect died at the scene. About an hour later, Bruce died from his injuries at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

WATCH: HFD arson investigator dies after shooting with suspect in NW Houston

Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena announces the death of HFD Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce, a 17-year veteran of the department.

Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal

A 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Sandeep Dhaliwal died in September 2019, after he was shot during a traffic stop in northwest Harris County.

The deputy belonged to the Sikh faith, the fifth largest religion in the world, whose members commit to equality, service and justice. Before he donned his shield and uniform, Dhaliwal was an entrepreneur who sold a lucrative business in order to go into law enforcement.

Dhaliwal leaves behind a wife and three children.

The suspect accused of shooting Dhaliwal to death has been charged with capital murder of a police officer.

WATCH: Dhaliwal was a trailblazer who spoke for need to support law enforcement after Deputy Goforth's murder

Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was a trailblazer who spoke for the need to support law enforcement after Deputy Darren Goforth's brutal murder.

Sgt. Kaila Sullivan

In December 2019, Nassau Bay police Sgt. Kaila Sullivan was one of multiple officers attempting to arrest a man wanted on warrants when she was hit and killed by the suspect's vehicle.

While trying to arrest the driver, police said the suspect fought with officers and was able to break free, re-enter the vehicle, and hit Sullivan as he drove away.

Sullivan was taken to HCA Clear Lake Hospital by ambulance, where she died.

WATCH: Community says goodbye to Nassau Bay Sgt. Kaila Sullivan

WATCH: Family and friends gave a touching final farewell to Nassau Bay Sgt. Kaila Sullivan Wednesday morning. Here's a compilation of some of the most heartfelt moments.