At separate press conferences Wednesday, Gonzalez and Ogg said they are aware of the concern from the community over the death of Hernandez, caught on video in a Denny’s parking lot, in which the husband of a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy pinned the 24-year-old to the ground. Hernandez’s death has been ruled a homicide. The horrific struggle, which was caught on video, shows Terry Thompson, husband of Deputy Shauna Thompson, putting Hernandez in a chokehold as the man groaned and wailed.
Ogg said her office would present the case to a grand jury soon.
“We appreciate the concerns, and justice will be served,” she said in a statement. “We want a fair process for both the victim and the accused in the grand jury process.”
Terry Thompson allegedly confronted Hernandez after he saw him urinating outside a Denny’s near Beltway 8 and U.S. 90. Shauna Thompson, who was not on duty and had planned on meeting her husband for dinner, arrived shortly after the two men got into a fight. Hernandez was subsequently rushed to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where he died three days later.
Hernandez’s family and community activists say Terry Thompson murdered Hernandez, and that his relationship to a sheriff’s deputy will probably protect him. Randal Kallinen, the attorney for Hernandez’s family, told the Houston Press he believes Shauna Thompson, a trained law enforcement officer, had a responsibility to prevent the killing.
Gonzalez asked the public to “trust our justice system,” and that his office holds the community’s trust “sacred.”
However, the sheriff offered little new information. Responding to reporters’ questions, Gonzalez would not say why Terry Thompson wasn’t arrested at the scene, nor did he know whether the man had a criminal record. He also declined to clarify his office’s policy regarding how deputies should respond to a physical altercation. He also said he didn’t know if Terry Thompson was intoxicated.
The sheriff’s office announced Tuesday evening that Deputy Shauna Thompson had been placed on administrative leave.
Demonstrators holding signs saying “Justice For Johnny” and similar sentiments gathered outside the Harris County Criminal Justice Center Wednesday afternoon, where, inside, Ogg echoed Gonzalez’s assurances that the investigation is being taken seriously.
“We appreciate the efforts of community activists and lawyers and we ask them to contact our office if they have evidence,” Ogg said in her statement.
Anyone with information is urged to call the sheriff’s office at 713-274-9100, or the DA’s Office at 713-274-0200.