Chauna Thompson terminated by Harris Co. Sheriff's Office in wake of John Hernandez choking death

By Brittany Taylor - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - Chauna Thompson was terminated by Harris Co. Sheriff's Office in the wake of John Hernandez's choking death and four other deputies will face disciplinary action.

The incident happened in a Denny's parking lot in east Harris County.

Details: John Hernandez death case: Timeline of events

Thompson was an off-duty Harris County sheriff's officer at the time of the incident.

After internal investigation of John Hernandez altercation, Harris County officials are taking new steps to improve training and revise policies to ensure best practices are consistent following an incident scene.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez had ordered an Internal Affairs investigation to answer questions about how the incident was handled during investigation.

After investigation, Gonzalez has approved the following disciplinary actions for some sheriff’s office personnel:

  • Deputy Chauna Thompson has been terminated.
  • One sergeant has been transferred to a new assignment, ordered to complete additional training, and suspended for five days.
  • One sergeant received a letter of documented counseling.
  • One sergeant received a letter of reprimand and was ordered to complete additional training.
  • One deputy received a one-day suspension and 30 days’ probation.

Officials said all disciplinary actions are subject to appeal to the Civil Service Commission and because this matter is related to a pending criminal case, no additional information will be released at this time.

Gonzalez released the following statement: 

“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. However, we will learn from the tragic death of John Hernandez.

“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.

“I will continue reviewing best practices to implement changes aimed at improving scene management and other aspects of our operation.

“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.”

A family spokesperson said they have been in contact with the Harris County Sheriff's office and hope that Hernandez's case will bring long-term change.

“They hope that given everything that’s happened it leads to systemic changes within the Harris County, within the judicial system as a whole," said Cesar Espinoza of FIEL Houston. "And that’s something they’re currently working to, as well as at the end of the day receive justice for their loved one.”

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