A Texas deputy sheriff and her husband have been indicted for the choking death of Johnny Hernandez outside of a Denny’s just outside Houston, Texas on May 28
“We grieve with the Hernandez family,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“We believe that this grand jury true-bill is a reflection of our community’s belief that a crime occurred and that crime was murder — and that it was participated in by Terry Thompson and his wife, Deputy Chauna Thompson.”
Witnesses, including Hernandez’s widow, testified to the grand jury for almost the whole day about the incident.
Reports indicate that Hernandez was with his wife and daughter at the Denny’s, and had been drinking.
Hernandez was captured on surveillance video going outside to urinate by his car.
That’s when Thompson, who was with his children, engaged with Hernandez, according to reports.
Chauna Thompson was off duty at the time, arrived in a separate car and called police.
She was charged with accessory to murder.
A statement given by the Thompson family had painted Terry Thompson the victim, rather than the assailant, according to KHOU.
The eyewitnesses however, disputed a police report that the Thompson’s wife, who was off duty, held Hernandez back and then gave him CPR when she noticed he wasn’t breathing.
Eyewitnesses told local media they begged Terry Thompson to release Hernandez from a chokehold.
“The man was turning purple,” Denny’s worker Melissa Trammell told the Houston Chronicle. “We begged him to get off the man and he wouldn’t.”
24-year-old Johnny Hernandez, his wife and 3-year-old daughter went to a Denny’s in Sheldon, Texas, in the Houston area on Sunday night.
He was drunk after celebrating a victory by his favorite soccer team.
His wife suggested he have some coffee. But Hernandez went outside and urinated near their car as his wife tried to stop him, which was captured on surveillance video.
His assailant, Terry Thompson, was also outside with his family.
Thompson, 41, then confronted Hernandez, breaking out into a fight.
An eyewitness told KHOU that Hernandez was in a chokehold for some 10 minutes and stopped breathing.
Hernandez’s wife, Maria Toval and their 3-year-old daughter watched in horror as he was slowly and deliberately, asphyxiated.
Paramedics transferred Hernandez to a hospital, where he was taken off life support Wednesday.
“She was crying and telling [Thompson], stop and he didn’t even stop,” his wife said of their daughter. “I told him please stop. Don’t do that to him. He’s drunk. He wasn’t in any position to fight. But, he didn’t have any compassion. He was really angry.”
Speaking to KHOU, Mrs Hernandez had express her fear that the case might get buried because the assailant’s wife is a deputy.
Witness: Maria Toval, Johnny Hernandez wife said “I told him please stop. Don’t do that to him. He’s drunk. He wasn’t in any position to fight. But, he didn’t have any compassion. He was really angry.”
The scene outside the Denny’s restaurant where Johnny Hernandez was choked
Johnny’s sister Jasmine Hernandez holds a photograph of her brother, at the rally to seek justice for his death June 7, in Houston
Deputies confiscated her cell phone when they took her away to be questioned, she said.
“They feel that they can get it covered up because they are cops.”
In response, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez last week asked the Department of Justice and the Texas Rangers to assist in the investigation.
Terry Thompson’s lawyer, Scot Courtney, expressed dismay that his client was charged with intentionally killing Hernandez.
“I’m extremely disappointed the grand jury chose to indict,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t believe the evidence shows that.”
The indictment came a day after over 150 people rallied in downtown Houston for Hernandez.
They chanted “Justice for John Hernandez,” “Brown lives matter” and “No estan solos,” which is Spanish for “you are not alone.”