Retired federal agent explains what led to fast indictment in case of Denny's confrontation

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - By some accounts, the indictments against Sheriff's Deputy Chauna Thompson and her husband, Terry, came up quickly.

Indictments on charges of murder were issued after a single day of testimony before the grand jury.

"Some people seemed stunned how quickly the indictments came back," said KPRC investigator Robert Arnold.

"I think the district attorney and sheriff recognized they needed to address this quickly," said Larry Karson, a retired federal agent.

Karson is also a criminal justice professor at the University of Houston-Downtown.

"This was one way to show that, 'Yes, it was being addressed,' and that the case was not being ignored," said Karson.

Karson said beyond the indictments, the cellphone video that emerged of the confrontation between John Hernandez and Terry and Chauna Thompson was key.

"Video is very, very powerful," he said. "More than the word, the video has an emotional impact on people."

Karson believes video is changing the way investigations into questionable police tactics are handled, taking confrontations between officers and the public past the point of "He-said, she-said."

"While the word 'restrained' may be used on a police report, a video shows exactly how a person was restrained," he said.

Karson said video has also vindicated many officers who were wrongly accused of improper behavior.

He said video has also helped spur and, in some cases, sustain public outcry when there is a question of whether police acted appropriately. Karson said video can give a voice to those who otherwise feel their statements wouldn't be believed.

"Now that voice may be heard, again, thanks to a video that helps substantiate what they're saying," Karson said.

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