Man dies after fight with deputy's husband at Denny's

SHELDON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Harris County Sheriff's Office is asking the Department of Justice and Texas Rangers to provide oversight as they investigate the death of a man following a fight outside a northeast Harris County Denny's.

John Hernandez, 24, died yesterday. He was the common-law husband of Maria Toral.

"I can't see it as happening. I feel like it's all a bad dream and I'm gonna wake up," she said.

Toral admits Hernandez was drunk when he went outside the restaurant to urinate. It's not clear who started the fight. Investigators say the husband of a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy verbally confronted Hernandez before anything got physical.

The family's attorney says doctors told them Hernandez died of strangulation.

"Too many times, unarmed Hispanic people have been injured by law enforcement in this county and nothing has happened," said attorney Randall Kallinen.

At this point: no charges, no arrest.

"We don't want to rush to judgement," said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Investigators are looking at surveillance video and the actions of the deputy's husband. Sheriff Gonzalez says the deputy was off duty at the time of the incident, that she arrived after the fight started, called for backup and helped subdue Hernandez. As soon as she and her husband realized he wasn't breathing, Gonzalez says, the deputy started CPR.

Gonzalez insists his department can do an unbiased, thorough investigation; however, asking for oversight from the Department of Justice and Texas Rangers will ensure no appearance of favoritism.

"No one's gonna get a free pass on this or anything like that," said Gonzalez.

The Harris County District Attorney's office says it will review all evidence gathered by the sheriff's office and determine if charges are warranted.

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