June 9, 2017 / 5:52 AM / 3 years ago

Sheriff deputy in Texas, husband faces murder charges in choke death

(Reuters) - A sheriff deputy in the Houston area and her husband were indicted on Thursday with the choking death of a 24-year-old man during a fight outside a Denny’s restaurant last month, a prosecutor said.

A grand jury in Harris County indicted deputy Chauna Thompson and her husband Terry Thompson each with murder in the May 28 death of John Hernandez in Sheldon, a suburb of Houston, District Attorney Kim Ogg said.

“Today, we move one step closer to justice for John Hernandez,” Ogg said during a news conference on Thursday.

Chauna Thompson, who was off duty at the time of the incident, and her husband face five years to life in prison if convicted. The couple surrendered to police on Thursday evening and were each being held on $100,000 bond, media reported.

During the night of May 28, Terry Thompson went with his family to the Denny’s where he confronted Hernandez outside the restaurant when he saw him urinating in public, police said.

The two men began fighting before Thompson’s wife arrived to meet her family at the restaurant. Chauna Thompson called police for assistance before she helped her husband restrain Hernandez, according to police.

When Chauna Thompson noticed Hernandez was not breathing, she began CPR. He was taken to the hospital where he later died, police said.

A video purportedly showing the incident is on the internet.

The footage shows a man on top of another man with his arm around his neck during a confrontation with a woman on her hands and knees next to them. The man on the bottom is kicking his legs and groaning, the video showed.

“The video to me is almost by itself enough. You see a person on the ground who is completely immobilized and grunting and moaning. And you see a big guy on top of him choking him and he dies of that choking,” the Hernandez family attorney, Randall Kallinen, told an ABC affiliate in Houston.

Family members of Hernandez, a father of a 3-year-old girl, gathered at the restaurant on Thursday, a day after a march was held calling for justice.

“We do not ask for the death penalty,” his aunt, Wendy Maldonado, said during a news conference.

“They already took a life. That is enough. This family has a heart and we are filled with love and they are human too.”

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Robert Birsel

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