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Harris County Moves to Dismiss Charges Against Former Deputy In Denny’s Murder Case

Chauna Thompson’s trial was scheduled to begin on April 26. The DA’s Office says they don’t have “sufficient evidence” to prove she wanted to harm John Hernandez.


On June 8th, a Harris County grand jury issued a murder indictment for Chauna Thompson, who works as a deputy for the Harris County Sheriff's Office, although she is currently on an unpaid administrative leave.
Photo: Harris County Sheriff's Office
Chauna Thompson.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday they're dismissing the criminal case against Chauna Thompson, the wife of Terry Thompson, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the strangulation death of John Hernandez during a confrontation at a local Denny's restaurant in May of 2017.

During Terry Thompson's trial in November, prosecutors argued that he wanted to kill 24-year-old Hernandez and kept him in a choke hold, even after he stopped resisting. The incident began after Thompson confronted Hernandez about urinating in the parking lot of a Denny's restaurant in the Crosby area, in northeast Harris County.

Chauna Thompson, who was with her husband at the time of the incident, had also been charged with murder. Her trial was scheduled to begin on April 26.

“We’ve looked at this top to bottom,” said Harris County First Assistant Attorney Tom Berg as he announced the decision, “we can’t go forward.” He said his office has analyzed the documents related to the investigation and the transcripts of Terry Thompson's two trials.

Berg said prosecutors don't have “sufficient evidence” to prove Chauna Thompson had an intent to harm Hernandez during the confrontation with her husband.

Video of the incident showed her holding Hernandez down on the floor while her husband applied a choke hold, but Berg said Chauna Thompson tried to perform CPR at one point.

Chauna Thompson worked as a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Office but was fired after the fatal incident. “Ms. Thompson's former employment as a deputy sheriff played no role in our decision to dismiss, just as it played no role in our original decision to present the case to a grand jury,” Berg said in a statement.

Terry Thompson is serving his sentence at a prison in Snyder, 450 miles northwest of Houston.

Hernandez's parents, Ignacio and Maria, were at Berg's announcement. He said the family is disappointed but has to respect the DA's decision. “They leave us with doubts in our soul,” Hernandez said in Spanish.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement it was aware of the decision made by the District Attorney. The statement says Thompson is appealing her employment termination and the case is pending before the Civil Service Commission.