HOUSTON - The deputy charged with murder in the death of John Hernandez has been fired, the Harris County Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday.
Chauna Thompson had been on administrative leave wtihout pay since she and husband Terry Thompson were charged in the case last month.
Terry Thompson is the man seen on video holding Hernandez in a choke hold outside a Sheldon Denny's on May 28. Chauna Thompson helped restrain the victim.
The medical examiner later ruled Hernandez's death was caused by strangulation and chest compression.
Members of Hernandez's family thanked Sheriff Ed Gonzalez at a news conference Friday evening.
“When we got the news, it was great news to us. We feel like it should have happened from day one, but it is a step in the right direction,” said one of Hernandez’s cousins.
The next step, for them, will be a guilty verdict.
“To get a conviction for both of them, that would be the ultimate justice," the cousin said.
Three sergeants who responded to the scene in the 17700 block of the Crosby Freeway that night were also disciplined in the case. A deputy was suspended for 30 days and put on 30 days probation. Their names were not released.
The internal affairs investigation will also lead to improved training and revised policies at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office they said in a press release Friday.
“I have strong confidence in the leadership of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the rank-and-file deputies who put their lives on the line every day to protect our community,” Sheriff Gonzalez said. “However, we will learn from the tragic death of John Hernandez.
Internal Affairs interviewed 32 people during the course of the investigation.
"While our in-depth investigation uncovered no evidence of nefarious actions on the part of our on-duty personnel who worked the initial incident scene, we did find areas in which we must improve as a department," the sheriff said. "We will also ensure that all appropriate personnel receive the support and training they need in order to meet the high standards we set for ourselves.”
Watch: Waitress recounts deadly beating outside Sheldon-area Denny's
The medical examiner ruled Hernandez, 24, died from strangulation and chest compression.
Terry Thompson confronted Hernandez after seeing him urinating outside the restaurant. Witnesses said he beat and restrained Hernandez even after he was clearly unconscious. They said Hernandez was too drunk to defend himself against the much larger Terry Thompson.
A waitress was one of those witnesses.
“It's wrong, you know they shouldn't have killed the man. Nobody's life is worth taking for a mistake. We all make mistakes,” Melissa Trammel told KHOU 11 News. “Me and my manager we begged this man. He was turning purple we told him to stop but he did not stop."
Hernandez's wife and 3-year-old daughter also begged Thompson to stop but he and his wife ignored their pleas.
“She was crying and telling (the man beating Hernandez) stop and he didn’t even stop,” Hernandez’s wife said last week. “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.”
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