AP NEWS

Activists protests against potential rehiring of former deputy after murder charge dropped

April 5, 2019

Activists and family members of John Hernandez, killed outside a Denny’s restaurant in 2017, demanded Friday that a former sheriff’s deputy initially charged in the case not be granted an appeal to regain her job.

Chauna Thompson filed a request to be rehired in 2017 after she was fired in connection with the killing of Hernandez, 24, who was strangled by her husband, Terry Thompson, in her presence while she was off-duty.

Terry Thompson was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but the Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it had dropped a murder charge against Chauna Thompson because prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. A cellphone video of the incident on May 28 of that year appeared to show Thompson helping her husband restrain Hernandez. The Thompsons alleged Hernandez was urinating outside the restaurant.

“We are protesting to prevent the Sheriff’s Office to rehire Thompson because she is a danger to our society; she helped murder my nephew,” said Hernandez’s aunt, Wendy Maldonado, at a protest in front of the sheriff’s office.

“When you are a police officer, whether you are on duty or off duty, you are supposed to follow guidelines, policies, rules and regulations, and she did not act like a police officer that night. She aided her husband in murdering my nephew,” said Maldonado.

Family members believe, based the video, that Thompson helped her husband kill Hernandez by pinning down the only hand that he had free to defend himself.

“She sat there and let a murder take place, she didn’t get (her husband) off, she didn’t do anything to try to stop a murder from happening right in front of her,” said activist Shere Dore. “She should not get her job back; even if she did give CPR, we are saying she is still negligent and it still can be construed as manslaughter because she was involved and did not act or gave a CPR until it was too late.”

Hernandez’s mother, Maria Elena Hernandez, said Thompson should not be permitted to work in law enforcement.

“I will never get over this pain,” she said. “I feel that they ripped something from my heart.”

Edison Toquica, the sheriff’s office chief deputy, said Thompson’s appeal is “going through a due process as it is the right to any employee.” It’s unclear whether Thompson still wants to rejoin the sheriff’s office, Toquica said.

olivia.tallet@chron.com

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