Warning: the contents of this video are disturbing.
On the night of May 28, initial video from a Denny’s restaurant in Houston, Texas, shows, a 24-year-old man named John Hernandez appeared to be intoxicated and had trouble standing while leaving the establishment with his wife.
Moments later, an off-duty deputy from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, her husband, 41-year-old Terry Thompson, and their children arrived at the restaurant. A confrontation between the deputy’s husband and Hernandez ensued that resulted in Hernandez losing his life in the hospital three days later.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Hernandez was seen urinating outside the restaurant and that this is what sparked the confrontation.
Now video has emerged that shows the chokehold that led to Hernandez’s death, the attorney for Hernandez’s family says, because “[an] anonymous concerned citizen […] said it shows murder.”
The video shows the off-duty deputy’s husband putting Hernandez in what attorney Jack Carroll called an “illegal chokehold.”
Hernandez can be heard gasping for air and seen kicking up his legs in clear distress.
Carroll says that the video shows at least the crime of manslaughter taking place and condemned others who stood by and said the person filming it the video was doing so illegally.
A witness told KPRC2 that they went “went outside and [they] got scared and [they] told them to stop” and that the man on top of Hernandez said, “No, because he hit me first.”
“He was punching him in the face, but at this point this guy was face up. It got to the point the guy was struggling to get out, and then he grabbed him from his neck, he shook him,” the witness added. “The guy stopped moving, and he still was on top of him.”
“I can’t explain to you how this feels. You couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t do anything,” the witness continued. “I couldn’t get in the middle. I was scared, I was shaking. I didn’t know what to do. It just feels, I don’t know what to tell you, it feels really bad seeing somebody that’s hitting somebody else and you can’t do nothing.”
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that internal affairs is looking into the incident.
“We can look at the video footage, but ultimately a medical examiner needs to tell us this was the cause of death. This is what led to the death,” he said. “Not just that — yes he died, but was he on top? Another health issue? And so there’s different factors in these types of cases that we have to take into investigation; if not, we wouldn’t be doing a thorough job.”
When Hernandez stopped moving, it is said that the off-duty deputy, who is wearing a blue top and red shorts in the video, performed CPR and called for an ambulance.
Hernandez was taken to the hospital and was taken off life support three days later.
No one has been charged with a crime as of yet.
There have been demonstrations calling for an arrest.