WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The former Williamson County Sheriff’s deputies indicted in the Javier Ambler case appeared in court Tuesday afternoon for a hearing.
The hearing was called primarily to discuss “Live PD” video, which was believed to be taken on the night of Ambler’s death. The State of Texas argues the video doesn’t exist, and if it did, the state would provide it.
The state has asked for the hearing to examine the issue.
During the in-person hearing, the defense representing former Williamson County deputies J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden called several witnesses from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, detectives in the case and current Austin Police Department officers. The court only heard from two of these witnesses.
The first being an Austin police officer who was tasked with throwing out ‘stop sticks’ during the high-speed chase. The purpose of his testimony was to prove to the court he witnessed seeing “Live PD” camera crews on scene at the time of Ambler’s death.
The second witness called to the stand was Austin Police Detective Erin Truho. Truho was tasked with performing the in-custody death investigation. The defense asked her several times what her role was in trying to get her hands on the “Live PD” footage.
“Upon arriving at the scene and speaking with my chain of command, it was determined that the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office would be responsible for obtaining the ‘Live PD’ footage,” said Truho.
The state proceeded to ask the question: ‘At that moment in time, did you have any indication that they would not secure the video for the investigation?’ Truho replied no.
Truho ended up submitting a grand jury subpoena for the “Live PD” footage.
“I didn’t have any reason to believe that they wouldn’t get me the footage, however, having a backup plan in case they didn’t get it to me is never a bad idea. I have two irons in the fire at that point,” said Truho.
Truho completed her in-custody investigation toward December of that year after receiving the medical examiner’s report. She said it became apparent the “Live PD” footage wasn’t going to come, and the case needed to be closed.
During the initial investigation, it was decided there wasn’t ‘probable cause’ the deputies had committed a criminal offense.
The two former deputies were arrested in March on manslaughter charges in the 2019 death of Ambler, whom they shocked with stun guns after a police chase that was filmed by the reality police television series “Live PD,” authorities said.
The charges are the first directly tied to the death of Ambler, a Black man whose car deputies chased for 22 minutes after trying to pull him over for allegedly failing to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic.
Ambler, a former postal worker, died after deputies repeatedly used stun guns on him, despite his pleas that he was sick and couldn’t breathe. The stop in suburban Austin was caught on camera by “Live PD,” which was canceled by the A&E Network in June.
The state wrapped up Tuesday’s hearing by asking detective Truho had she had the “Live PD” footage during her initial investigation, would her investigation gone differently.
“It certainly would have aided in the investigation whichever way it went,” said Truho.
More witnesses are expected to appear at a later court date scheduled for Jan. 11.