AUSTIN, TX. Sept. 10, 2015 — Governor Abbott awarded the Star of Texas Award to 28 Texans, including Jacinto City’s recipient Lt. Dennis Walker.
Since 2003 the award recognizes peace officers, firefighters, emergency medical first responders and citizens who assist them killed or injured in the line of duty.
Walker was injured March 20, 2013 when he was shot while defending another JC officer who had also been shot.
Governor Abbott said, “Today Texas continues its legacy of celebrating and honoring those who have served in the most challenging circumstances. It is with the highest esteem and depth of gratitude that I present the Star of Texas award to 28 Texans. The Star of Texas award is aptly named – it goes only to those who are truly stars in the State of Texas – those who have shined in their service to our fellow Texans, those who self-sacrificed and it has allowed Texas to continue to shine as the lone star of our great nation.”
When asked after the ceremony Lt. Walker said, “I’m just overwhelmed and grateful to be recognized by so many distinguished people and to those who made this possible. I have never even been to the Capitol nor met Governor Abbott so this is really a huge event for my life and one my family and I will cherish forever.”
“What impacted me this day the most was my having seen those family members and the little children of those who was killed in the line of duty. It tore my heart out to see those kids get the award for their deceased parents. Seeing that took me back to the day of the shooting and it made me realize those kids could have been my own,” Walker said.
Jacinto City officials and citizens traveled to the State’s Capitol to watch the Governor’s presentation of the award Thursday morning.
Jacinto City’s mayor Ana Diaz said she was happy to have attended the Austin Ceremony for such a deserving and heroic officer as Lt. Walker. The same Thursday at the evening’s city council meeting the Mayor and Council adopted a Proclamation of Recognition and presented it to Walker. The meeting attendees was invited to the cake and punch reception prepared for Lt. Walker.
City Manager Lon Squyres said, “It was great to see Lt. Walker being recognized for his heroic actions while serving the citizens of Jacinto City. It stands in stark contrast to the lack of respect for law enforcement officials that has become so popular in today’s world. In addition to the event in Austin we have seen a large outcry of local support for Officer Walker and the entire Jacinto City Police Department. Having a close relationship with our police is just another benefit of living in a small town like Jacinto City.”
Police Chief Joe Ayala said, “It was a privilege and honor to stand with fellow officer Lt. Walker and his family as he received the award from the Governor he surely deserved.”
Lt. Walker received the recognition for his bravery and actions after sustaining serious gun fire injuries upon the arrival of a disturbance scene and saving the life of Jacinto City’s Sgt. J. Simpson-Castaneda who had arrived at the scene earlier and had come under gun fire by the suspect and also received serious injuries. Walker sustained the injuries as he returned gun fire to distract the suspect from Sgt. Castaneda. Walker then proceeded in assisting and removing Sgt. Castaneda and family members of the suspect from harm as the suspect retreated and barricaded himself in the home. The suspect was eventually arrested and his case is presently pending.
State Representative Ana Hernandez’s District 143 represents Jacinto City, she too recognized Lt. Walker by presenting him a framed House Resolution she prepared for the event. “Law enforcement officers place themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis in order to keep our community safe, Lieutenant Walker’s heroism is an example of the selflessness these men and women exhibit as they willingly put their lives at risk to serve the public.” Hernandez said.