Video showing the husband of a Texas sheriff’s deputy brutally choking a man outside a Denny’s restaurant was released on Monday. Even though the man later died, no arrests have been made in the case.
The man—identified by the Houston Chronicle as 41-year-old Terry Thompson, wife of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Shauna Thompson—is shown pinning 24-year-old John Hernandez on the ground in a chokehold, with blood on his hands and the pavement, as Hernandez grunts and cries out in pain. A woman in blue kneels beside him.
Hernandez, who was 24, was allegedly urinating outside a Denny’s in east Harris County, Texas, on the evening of May 28 when Thompson spotted him. Thompson had pulled into the parking lot while his children were in the car. A fight eventually ensued.
Warning: graphic footage.
It remains unclear who started the fight. But the new footage appears to show Thompson with his entire body weight on Hernandez, who is face down on the ground and in a chokehold. The Chronicle reported that Shauna Thompson “helped restrain” Hernandez, though she also called for police and medical assistance.
After three days on life support at a local hospital, Hernandez, who has a four-year-old daughter, died from his injuries.
The video was made public by attorney Jack Carroll, who represents the anonymous man who shot the footage. As the video rolls, Thompson looks up at the camera while on top of Hernandez, and multiple others, including a woman later identified as Thompson’s daughter, attempt to block the bystander from filming the fight.
“Why are you recording? Stop,” she screams, apparently at the bystander, in the video. “Just stop. It’s illegal to record, just stop.” (In fact, no laws were being broken.)
Another unidentified man, clad in a leather vest, tries to block the witness’ view and tells the cameraman: “That lady is a sheriff’s deputy. If you continue, you will go to jail.”
Attorneys representing Hernandez’s family said that the video provides probable cause for Thompson and his wife Shauna, a sheriff’s deputy who was not on duty at the time, to be arrested. At this time, neither have been arrested or charged.
“It’s a very sad video. You’re watching a man basically get killed. He was kicking his legs in a helpless fashion, and you could hear him gargling, just begging for it to stop,” Carroll said in a news conference on Monday.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s department refused to identify the person shown in the video to the Houston Press, or even to confirm that a Shauna Thompson is employed as an officer in Harris County. The district attorney told the site that the case would go to a grand jury when the sheriff’s office completes its investigation. (The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fusion, but we’ll update this post if they do.)
Scot Courtney, an attorney for Thompson, told reporters that the video doesn’t show the entire altercation, which he claims began when Hernandez hit his client first.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has requested help from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Texas Rangers in the case. The results of an autopsy are pending.