HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (CBSNews) — Authorities say they will seek help from the Department of Justice and the Texas Rangers in the investigation of a 24-year-old father who was allegedly beaten to death by the husband of a Harris County sheriff’s deputy outside of a Denny’s restaurant in Texas.
The investigation of Johnny Hernadez’s death has been given “high priority,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
“We’re going to continue to investigate the incident, but I will also be reaching out to the Texas Rangers and the Department of Justice to make sure that we have full transparency and to make sure there is another set of independent eyes that will look at our investigation,” Gonzalez told CBS affiliate KHOU-TV. “I have full confidence in our investigators, and I believe there are doing a thorough job. I trust their skill set on this.”
The case will be handed over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office at a later date, Gonzalez said.
According to KHOU-TV, the deadly brawl unfolded late Sunday (May 28) night after Hernandez and his family stopped at the restaurant to celebrate a soccer team’s victory. His wife says he was drunk, and she insisted he have coffee.
Surveillance cameras show the couple walking out of the restaurant and into the parking lot. At one point, Hernandez urinated near his vehicle, which was parked outside.
Another man — who has been identified as a 48-year-old with the last name Thompson — is seen in the video confronting Hernandez about his behavior. Moments later, the men begin scuffling in the parking lot.
Thompson’s wife, who is a sheriff’s deputy, assisted in restraining Hernandez. She later administered CPR when she noticed he was not breathing.
An eyewitness told KHOU-TV Hernandez was drunk and defenseless while he was beaten by Thompson. Hernandez was held in a chokehold for more than 10 minutes, the eyewitness said.
Upon their arrival, paramedics transported Hernandez to a hospital where he was admitted into the intensive care unit. According to the family’s lawyer, he was taken off life support on Wednesday (May 31) night when he was found to be brain dead.
Hernandez’s wife claims sheriff’s deputies took her cell phone away and led her to another location for interviews at the scene. She says the report that was given to her family labeled Thompson as the victim in the case.
The case remains under investigation.