HARRIS COUNTY, Tx.– The family of a Texas man who died after a confrontation with a Harris County deputy’s husband has hired a lawyer after a recently released witness cell phone video showed the man allegedly using an “illegal chokehold” on their loved one.
According to attorneys, the video shows Terry Thompson, 41, on top of 24-year-old John Hernandez. Thompson’s wife, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, stands nearby and, at times, helps hold Hernandez down, attorneys say.
“The man was helpless, but they kept on holding him. You can see on his right hand that he’s missing a lot of skin, which shows that this has been going on for quite some time,” said Jack Carroll, the attorney for an anonymous citizen who took the video.
Carroll says Thompson appears to have Hernandez in a reverse chokehold, a move that is not allowed by some police agencies.
“The last gasps of his life, he was begging to let him breathe,” Carroll said of Hernandez.
The Hernandez family attorney, Randall Kallinen, says that particular move is a problem because the deputy was right there and didn’t stop it.
“She made no efforts whatsoever to stop the illegal chokehold which led to this killing,” Kallinen said.
Investigators say Hernandez was seen urinating outside the Denny’s where the fight took place the night of May 28. Thompson yelled at the man to stop, and a physical confrontation ensued.
It’s not clear whether Thompson or Hernandez initiated the physical aspect of the confrontation.
Hernandez was hospitalized after the fight and died three days later.
Neither Thompson nor his wife was arrested or charged.
Officials with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office say there is an internal investigation to see if the deputy violated policy, and they were already aware of the video.
“There will be ample time for the district attorneys to review the case and determine what charges are applicable,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Kallinen believes the video shows a crime of at least manslaughter, and Carroll says the case should be taken before a grand jury.
“I think it deserves at least a grand jury action. Let them take a look at it. Let other people decide what to do with this,” Carroll said.
The Texas Rangers are providing oversight on the sheriff’s office’s investigation to ensure it is handled properly and thoroughly.