Warning: Graphic content
A recently emerged cell phone video shows the husband of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Chauna Thompson putting a Latino man in a chokehold for 10 minutes, resulting in his death.
The incident occurred at a Denny’s restaurant in Houston, Texas, on May 28 when the deputy’s husband, Terry Thompson, drove up to the restaurant to wait for his wife. It was then that he saw 24-year-old John Hernandez urinating in the parking lot and went to confront him. The situation escalated and soon became violent after Thompson grabbed Hernandez in a chokehold.
The deputy arrived on the scene shortly, but instead of stopping her husband, she helped him restrain Hernandez.
The video, recorded by a witness, showed Thompson sitting on the victim’s back with a strong chokehold as his legs kick spasmodically and he made grunting sounds. As Hernandez gasped for air, the deputy’s husband asked, “Do you want me to hit you again? Do you want me to hit you again?”
His wife, then sensing they were being taped, told the person with the camera to stop recording as it was “illegal.”
However, Thompson did not relent until Hernandez stopped moving. When the deputy saw he had stopped breathing, she started performing CPR on him until the paramedics arrived, the witness said.
Unfortunately, it was too late for Hernandez. When he arrived at the hospital, he was put on life support but the doctor declared him brain dead. The family was forced to pull him off the breathing tubes and the doctor told them he died of strangulation.
“It appears to be manslaughter, if not a murder,” said Randall Kallinen, the Hernandez family’s attorney. “Because it appears the guy has him in a chokehold and he chokes him, and he chokes him and eventually kills him.”
At the time, Thompson and his wife were neither arrested nor charged.
The family of the deceased is now seeking justice.
“I can’t see this as happening,” Hernandez’s wife, Maria Toral, told KPRC News. “I feel like it’s all a bad dream and I’m just going to wake up.”
Hernandez’s death sparked protest from the Texas community and some claimed the man who restrained him was given preferential treatment because his wife is a deputy.
"This is what witnesses have been saying all along," said Kallinen. "The Harris County deputies actively tried to cover up the killing at the scene and let a killer go free because he was married to a deputy."
The attorney demanded Sheriff Ed Gonzalez’s office allow an independent outside investigation of the death. The department assured him the investigation would be unbiased and transparent.
On Thursday, both Terry and Chauna Thompson were indicted on murder charges and were held in custody.
Terry Thompson and Deputy C. Thompson are now in custody on murder charges in John Hernandez case #hounews— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) June 9, 2017
"We are not asking for the death penalty for the Thompson family. We are only asking for life in prison," Wendy Maldonado, Hernandez’s aunt, told reporters.
Family and friends will hold a wake Friday to honor Hernandez, who will be buried Saturday after mass and a graveside service, said the Houston area funeral home.
TW: white violence, death— Espi 🌼 (@SoyEsperanz) June 6, 2017
John Hernandez was murdered. It's not surprising knowing a white man abused their power, white superiority kills. https://t.co/lfehP7z3Ko
My heart aches for John Hernandez and all of the people who have ever been wrongfully taken by the hands of white supremacy.— Espi 🌼 (@SoyEsperanz) June 6, 2017
The video of #JohnHernandez is awful. Can't believe what I saw and heard. He didn't need to die. The man who killed him needs to be in jail.— Nick Russo (@Kingnickrusso) June 5, 2017