HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Police in Texas are investigating the death of a 24-year-old father who was allegedly beaten by the husband of a Harris County Sheriff's deputy.
Sheriff Ed Gonzales told reporters Friday that his department will conduct the investigation but has asked the Department of Justice and the Texas Rangers for help to ensure "transparency" and "another set of independent eyes."
CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reports that Johnny Hernandez's wife said her husband was drunk when the family stopped at a Denny's late Sunday night after celebrating his beloved Chivas soccer team's victory. His wife said she insisted he have coffee, but surveillance cameras showed Hernandez walking outside with his wife trying to stop him. She said her husband urinated near their vehicle.
Another man, whose wife is a sheriff's deputy, was reportedly outside with his kids and confronted Hernandez about his behavior. Video showed the two men scuffling.
People ran outside while Hernandez's wife and 3-year-old daughter watched and screamed.
"She was crying and telling (the man beating Hernandez) stop and he didn't even stop," Hernandez's wife said. "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."
Hernandez's wife claims deputies took her cell phone then led her away for interviews. She also said that the report given to the family called the man who beat Hernandez the victim.
"They feel that they can get it covered up because they are cops," Hernandez's wife said.
An eyewitness who spoke with KHOU on Thursday on the condition of anonymity said Hernandez was drunk and defenseless as he was beaten by the off-duty deputy's husband.
Sheriff Gonzales told reporters that the off-duty deputy arrived separately from her husband and that she called for assistance, helped restrain Hernandez, then administered CPR until emergency help arrived.
But the eyewitness who spoke with KHOU reportedly disputed that version of the events.
"Even after I told him 'stop, stop' and other people were screaming he wouldn't do it," the eyewitness said. "Even after his wife came he didn't do it. His wife didn't do anything, because I went in to call the police she was already there on the side and I didn't see her do anything, I didn't hear [her] tell him stop. I didn't hear her tell him anything. She just was watching."
The eyewitness tells KHOU that Hernandez was held in a chokehold by the deputy's husband for more than 10 minutes and was not breathing.