Ex-Houston deputies appeal firing after death cases tossed
HOUSTON (AP) — Two former Harris County sheriff’s deputies who faced criminal charges in two separate deaths are seeking reinstatement and back pay after legal proceedings in their cases ended without a conviction.
Prosecutors dismissed a murder charge against Chauna Thompson in the 2017 strangulation a man outside of a restaurant in the Houston area. A jury last week acquitted Cameron Brewer of aggravated assault by a peace officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in March 2018.
Both former deputies were fired in the months following their respective incidents.
Now, both Thompson and Brewer are expected to appeal their firings from the agency with the Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission.
“We have confidence that once all the evidence is presented to the Civil Service Commission, they will agree,” said David Cuevas, president of the Harris County Deputies’ Organization.
Cuevas added neither of the former deputies, who belong to his union, should’ve lost their jobs.
Thompson’s appeal hearing for reinstatement is set for Sept. 10. Brewer’s hearing has not yet been scheduled, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“We’ll reserve our comments for the official hearing(s) out of respect for the Civil Service process,” sheriff’s office spokesman Jason Spencer said.
Thompson was off duty when her husband, Terry, confronted 24-year-old John Hernandez for urinating outside of the Denny’s along the Crosby Freeway. During the altercation, Thompson tackled and placed the young man in a chokehold. Hernandez couldn’t be revived. Her husband was convicted last November of murder and is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Brewer, who is black, fatally shot Danny Ray Thomas when he saw him with his pants around his ankles at an intersection in Greenspoint. Thomas was black and unarmed.
Brewer, 45, said he suspected that Thomas was high and feared for his life based on another encounter with a suspect who didn’t respond to the less-lethal Taser. Meanwhile, Thomas’ family said Thomas, who was 34, was having a mental health crisis while grieving the deaths of his two children. Authorities said Thomas’ ex-wife drowned the children two years ago.
“We believe the sheriff’s department Monday-chair-quarterbacked a good employee, and we fully expect Cameron Brewer to get his job back,” Cuevas said.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com