M.E. Declares Death of John Hernandez a Homicide By Strangulation

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UPDATE, 11:30 p.m.:
The Harris County Sheriff's Office announced Deputy Thompson has been placed on administrative leave indefinitely, and that the findings of the investigation have been presented to the district attorney.

The Harris County medical examiner on Tuesday declared the death of John Hernandez, the man who died after a fight with the husband of a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy outside a Denny's in late May, was a homicide.

The manner of death: anoxic encephalopathy, or a loss of oxygen to the brain, caused by strangulation by chest compression.

That conclusion is supported by a video released Monday that depicts Terry Thompson, 41, grasping Hernandez in a chokehold while lying on top of the 24-year-old Hernandez. Thompson's wife, Deputy Shauna Thompson, orders Hernandez to "stay the fuck down." Hernandez, who groans and flails his legs during the 52-second clip, died three days after the May 28 incident.

Whether the ruling will lead to criminal charges remains to be seen. The medical examiner's office said the autopsy of Hernandez, performed June 2, will take about a week to complete.

While much about the altercation remains unknown, police said Terry Thompson approached Hernandez outside of the restaurant shortly before midnight because Hernandez was allegedly urinating. The video clip, shot by a bystander who wishes to remain anonymous, does not show the beginning of the altercation between the two men.

Shauna Thompson remains on active duty, the sheriff's office said Monday. The Harris County District Attorney's Office has pledged to present evidence to a grand jury once the sheriff's office has completed its investigation.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has asked the Texas Rangers and the Department of Justice to assist with the case, to avoid the perception his department is biased since one of its deputies was involved in the incident.

Scot Courtney, an attorney representing Terry Thompson, did not immediately return a call for comment. Attorneys for the Hernandez family believe Hernandez was murdered.