A Texas deputy and her husband were indicted on murder charges earlier today in the strangling death of a drunk man who had been urinating outside a Denny’s restaurant last month.
And only because a witness happened to capture the chilling killing on video – despite several people trying to block the videographer from recording the incident, claiming it was “illegal.”
It is not illegal to record in public, but it certainly is illegal to strangle a man to death for simply urinating in public.
But Terry Thompson, who is married to Harris County sheriff’s deputy Chauna Thompson, was apparently under the impression that he had a license to kill by proxy through his marriage to a cop.
His wife, who was off-duty, can be seen in the video holding the victim down as another man and a woman try to block the videographer from recording.
Now they both face between five years to life in prison if convicted.
An attorney for Terry Thompson claimed that John Hernandez, the 24-year-old victim, threw the first punch, but numerous witnesses testified today, including one woman who said that Thompson refused to stop strangling Hernandez, even when it was obvious he was turning purple.
The Harris County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, determining that Hernandez died of lack of oxygen to the brain caused by strangulation and chest compression.
Hernandez’s wife said that responding deputies confiscated her phone, although it is not clear she was recording.
She also said that deputies listed Terry Thompson as the “victim” in their reports, even though it was clear to witnesses that the victim had been strangled to death.
People ran outside while Hernandez’s wife and 3-year-old daughter watched and screamed.
“She was crying and telling (the man beating Hernandez) stop and he didn’t even stop,” Hernandez’s wife said. “I told him please stop. Don’t do that to him. He’s drunk. He wasn’t in any position to fight. But, he didn’t have any compassion. He was really angry.”
Hernandez’s wife claims deputies took her cell phone then led her away for interviews. She also said that the report given to the family called the man who beat Hernandez the victim.
“They feel that they can get it covered up because they are cops,” Hernandez’s wife said.
But the video along with public outcry and protests forced the case to go before a grand jury Thursday.
Grand jurors also began hearing testimony from employees at the restaurant, including server Melissa Trammell, who arrived at work at 10 p.m. that night, about an hour before the altercation.She declined to say what she told the grand jury, but told reporters outside the grand jury chambers what she saw that night.
“The man was turning purple,” she said, holding back tears. “We begged him to get off the man and he wouldn’t.”
She said she tried to reason with Thompson as he straddled Hernandez and choked him.
“He looked me in the face and said, ‘I’m not getting off him.'”
The couple are now expected to surrender to authorities immediately.