AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas State Sen. John Whitmire announced in a letter Friday to local and state officials that the Texas Rangers should take over the investigation into the the March 2019 death of Javier Ambler in Williamson County.
Whitmire’s letter is in reference to Ambler’s death on March 28, 2019, which happened while he was in custody of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. The death happened after a 22-minute chase began in Williamson County and ended in north Austin, and it all reportedly happened because Ambler failed to dim his headlights.
Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, writes in the letter:
“I am most troubled by reports that the circumstances leading up to the death, even the death itself, were recorded by a “Live P.D.” camera crew — and that the video of the incident was subsequently destroyed.”
Ambler’s death was recorded by production crews for the A&E law enforcement reality show “Live P.D.” — which featured WCSO — although the footage did not air.
BACKGROUND: ‘Live PD’ in-custody death video deleted, Sheriff Chody called to resign
The Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said WCSO and producers of “Live P.D.” have not cooperated with investigation, a claim that Sheriff Robert Chody refutes.
“For the last year, (Williamson County Sheriff’s Office) has stonewalled our investigation,” Moore wrote on Twitter. “What should have been a routine traffic stop ended with Javier’s death,” Moore said.
Moore said initial findings support that Ambler notified officers of his congenital heart defect before he was tased four times. In body camera footage from an Austin Police Dept. officer who responded to the scene, Ambler can be heard saying, “I have congestive heart failure,” and, “I can’t breathe.”
In his letter, Whitmire calls for the Texas Rangers, “as the state’s premier investigative agency on custodial deaths” be brought in as an outside agency to make sure the investigation is done properly.
“The public deserves complete transparency of this tragic event,” writes Whitmire.
The Senator also says the Texas legislature should prohibit TV film crews from riding with officers during official duties, but that if they do, all unedited footage should be provided to agencies and discoverable by public information.
Whitmire’s letter is addressed to Moore and Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and DPS Col. Steve McGraw also received copies of the letter.