HOUSTON - Melissa Trammell is a Denny’s waitress who says she waited on the Hernandez family the night of May 28.
Trammell talks about what she witnessed the night John Hernandez was placed in a choke hold for several minutes outside of the restaurant.
WARNING: Video is disturbing and shows violence
“I don’t know how it began, but I do know that the Thompson dude would not let go of Hernandez," Trammell said. "We kept asking him to please let go, let go. And they did not let go. He kept holding him in a choke hold, holding him and just never would let him go after turning blue. He was turning purple. We begged this man, me and my manager begged for him to stop. But he did not stop.”
KHOU 11 Reporter Melissa Correa asked: "There are so many questions about what was happening behind that cell phone video we saw. One of the big things a lot of people are putting on social media is, why didn’t anybody try to pull, grab this guy off him?"
“Well, as a Denny’s employee, we’re not allowed to touch him,” Trammell said. “You know, we could get sued for touching him. In my right mind, I wanted to do so much, but I knew working for Denny’s, that we could be in a lot of trouble if any of us got involved, so we called. It took 43 minutes for the police to get there.”
Correa: "How do you know that? That’s a very exact time."
Trammell: “Well, because I kept looking at my phone. I kept looking at my phone, and I kept saying, 'Oh, my God, it’s already this and it’s already this (time). So, if I’m off a little bit, I’m sorry. But I know.”
Correa: "How many of you, how many folks do you remember actually picking up the phone and calling (911)?"
Trammell: "It was six or seven of us. Six or seven of us calling 911."
Correa: "What were you saying to the dispatchers?"
Trammell: “We were telling them to hurry. Hurry. You know, the man is turning blue, I mean purple. He could not breathe. He could not breathe. He was kicking for his life. Struggling. You know, at first I thought it was legitimate, he was just going to hold him down. Whatever. When I had seen the man turning purple there was no let up. And he looked me in my face and said he is not getting off him.”
Correa: "How far was his 3-year old daughter?"
Trammell: “Right there. They were right next to me. Right next to me.”
Correa: "How far were you from John Hernandez?"
Trammell: “Right there, with his wife. Looking. Trying to tell the man to get up. I had a customer, or I had a few customers on the inside, so I had to go inside and hold my breath and just keep going inside, because I had to take care of my customers because I do have a job.”
Correa: "What time was this?"
Trammell: “This had to occur around 11-something. I get there at 10. It had to be after 11.”
Correa: "And did you wait on either one of them?"
Trammell: “Well, I was getting their coffee. I was getting their coffee, right when I was coming to bring their cream that’s when the wife ran out for him.”
Correa: "When you say you were waiting on them, getting their coffee, you mean Mr. Hernandez or the other party involved?"
Trammell: “Mr. Hernandez and his wife.”
Correa: "You were waiting on them?"
Trammell: “Yes. I was getting their coffee, but he had to go outside.”
Correa: "What did he seem like to you? We’ve heard he’s drunk, we heard he couldn’t defend himself.
Trammell: "Yeah. He couldn’t defend himself. He was drunk. You know, they had just come from a party or somewhere, soccer? Sorry. But they were no problem with us Denny’s employees. I mean, he did go outside instead of the bathroom, they say. You know, but he’s drunk.
“It’s really heartbreaking. It’s so heartbreaking. And for the wife and the daughter to see their husband, I couldn’t imagine. You know, and me being right there, I just don’t know.”
Another reporter asked Trammell, "Can you talk to us about Chauna Thompson, Mr. Thompson’s wife?"
Trammell: “All she did was keep yelling. I wasn’t out there when she got there. I had to go back in. But when I came back out, she was there holding him down telling him, quit. Don’t move. Don’t move.”
Reporter: "Did you see any attempt on her part to tell her husband to stop?"
Trammell: “No. She was yelling at the man herself.”
Correa: "But you did not see, at any point, these testimonies of Hernandez swinging first?
Trammell: “No. No. That’s just hearsay.”
Correa: "Didn’t see that?"
Trammell: “No. No one saw that.”
Correa: "From the time it was you serving this family coffee to the brawl outside?"
Trammell: “It had to be about two minutes. That’s just how quick it was. Two minutes. I didn’t understand what was going on. I know the wife kept telling (John Hernandez), 'Give me the keys, give me the keys.' So I don’t know.”
Correa: "A majority of the witnesses were Denny’s workers or just folks eating at the restaurant?"
Trammell: "Yeah. It was just mainly us at work. Me and my manager, really. There was two employees that were just eating there.”
Correa: "So then let’s cut to Hernandez is unconscious. We’re hearing that the wife then begins CPR, at that point, how does the scene change?"
Trammell: “It don’t. They laid him on, I guess, like I said I had to go back in, so I can’t answer that directly. I do know, when I came back out, he’s laying on his back. Motionless. And the wife is just, ‘I don’t know’ whatever they’re talking about. I didn’t see no CPR going on.”
Correa: "You never saw chest compressions?"
Trammell: "I never saw her. My manager got to see all that. I never saw any of that part because I was inside. But it was already over and they’re asking us to help move Hernandez out of the rain and drag him closer. And we’re like, no. We’re not helping you.”
© 2017 KHOU-TV