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Cop and Husband Charged with Murder for Denny's Chokehold

Video from the incident shows the two pinning down 24-year-old John Hernandez while bystanders scream for them to stop.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Screengrab via YouTube

A 24-year-old man died last month after a Texas Sheriff's Deputy and her husband allegedly pinned him to the pavement and choked him into unconsciousness. Now the couple faces murder charges, as the Houston Chronicle reports.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Chauna Thompson and her husband, Terry Thompson, could each face life sentences after being indicted Thursday.

On May 28, 41-year-old Terry Thompson rolled up to a Denny's in Sheldon, Texas, where John Hernandez was urinating outside, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. Thompson, who'd brought his children along, approached Hernandez, and the two got into an argument. The fight eventually turned physical, though it's unclear exactly how, or who started it.


Police said the scuffle broke out a little before midnight. Video footage from the incident captures Thompson pinning Hernandez to the ground, face-down. As Thompson lies on top of the 24-year-old and binds him in a chokehold, Hernandez flails beneath him, kicking out and groaning under his weight. Chauna Thompson—who police said was off-duty at the time, and arrived in a separate car after the dispute began—can be seen pressing Hernandez's left arm to the pavement.

Several bystanders scream at the Thompsons to stop, including Hernandez's daughter.

"Stay the fuck down!" Chauna Thompson yells at Hernandez.

"Do you want me to hit you again?" her husband asks.

Eventually Hernandez stopped breathing, and Chauna Thompson began administering CPR, according to police. Paramedics rushed Hernandez to the hospital, but after slipping into a coma, he died on May 31.

The Thompsons turned themselves in Thursday night, and were released from jail after posting $100,000 in bail apiece. One of their attorneys told the Associated Press Terry Thompson's actions did not merit murder charges, and that he was acting in self-defense after Hernandez attacked him.

The Thompsons' indictment comes just days after Las Vegas policeman Kenneth Lopera was charged with manslaughter for tasing a suspect seven times and placing him in a chokehold for more than a minute, which led to his death. As the Washington Post reported, it's rare for cops to face charges over officer-involved fatalities in America: From 2005 to 2015, only 54 cops were charged in fatal shootings, and most were not convicted.

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