Video released of off-duty deputy's husband choking man to death
The video, released Monday, shows Terry Thompson, 46, on top of and choking John Hernandez, 24, while an unidentified female is crouched next to him, helping to restrain Hernandez.
Hernandez flails under Thompson, who repeatedly asks him, “do you want me to hit you again?”
The woman can also be heard, commanding the man to “stay the f*** down.”
As the bystander films the incident, other unidentified individuals step in front of the camera, trying to block the view. They are also heard asking the onlooker to stop recording, telling them that it is illegal, threatening arrest.
"If you continue recording, you will go to jail," one man tells the person recording the assault.
Jack Carroll and Randall Kallinen, attorneys for the Hernandez family say that the witness had every right to record the incident since it happened in a public place, according to the Houston Chronicle.
According to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Thompson is the husband of a sheriff’s deputy who was off-duty at the time.
At a news conference on Friday, Gonzalez said that the incident began when Thompson observed Hernandez urinating in public view in a Houston-area Denny’s parking lot last Sunday.
Thompson, 48, confronted the man about his behavior and a physical altercation ensued.
Gonzales identified Thompson as the husband of the Harris County Sheriff's deputy, and that the deputy was off duty at the time of the altercation.
He said that the deputy arrived at the restaurant in a separate vehicle to meet her family. When she saw the fight, she called the Sheriff’s office and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Although the woman in the video is not identified, Gonzales confirmed that the sheriff’s deputy “helped her husband restrain the other man.”
“When the deputy had observed that Hernandez had stopped resisting, she and her husband stopped restraining him, and then noticed that he was not breathing,” Gonzales said.
The deputy began CPR until EMS arrived. Hernandez was taken to the hospital for treatment, where he was pronounced dead on Wednesday night.
Harris County Sheriff's Office said the investigation has been given a “high priority” and Gonzales said they will be seeking oversight from the Texas Rangers as well as the Department of Justice to "make sure there's another set of independent eyes.”
Once the investigation has concluded, Gonzales said they will present the case to the Harris County district attorney’s office.
“I have full confidence in our investigators. I believe they’re doing a thorough job. I trust their skill set on this and I have experience investigating these types of cases, and so I have full confidence that we at the sheriff’s office are highly capable to present an independent investigation and do it thoroughly,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said that no one has been charged in the incident, which took place on May 28. While Gonzales would not say if Thompson was considered a suspect, he did refer to him as “a party to the incident.”
“Our role at this moment is to gather facts, not necessarily determine how we classify per se,” Gonzales said.
He said he will be conducting interviews and is asking anyone who has any additional information to come forward.