WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A man arrested by Williamson County deputies during filming for the A&E television show “Live PD” is suing the county, saying he was arrested in “humiliating fashion” for the cameras.
Scott Lewis’ lawsuit says he was arrested two years ago in January 2019 by Williamson County deputies and suffered a broken shoulder while in custody, which still causes ongoing pain today.
Lewis was reportedly detained for a “prolonged period of time” so camera crews could arrive at the scene to record, according to the lawsuit. He was then taken to a different location to ensure “a more suitable filming environment.”
Although the show is now canceled, Williamson County officials terminated their agreement with the production company for the police reality show in August 2019.
The lawsuit says former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody regularly promoted the show on social media and claims he “encouraged and incentivized his officers to create more entertaining television.”
“[Former] Sheriff Chody created a culture around the show that rewarded the escalation of conflict and violence,” the lawsuit reads.
Among other examples, the lawsuit mentions the Javier Ambler case to display how the show and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office encouraged officers to escalate situations for the cameras.
Ambler died in Williamson County deputies’ custody in March 2019, after being tased and pleading with officers that he couldn’t breathe. The arrest was filmed for the show at the time.
“This minor traffic offense was turned into television spectacle though an unnecessary police chase that turned deadly after the suspect surrendered to authorities and despite informing them of his health conditions was repeatedly tased and ultimately died as a result thereof,” the lawsuit reads.
Although the footage never aired, Chody was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with evidence in September 2020 for allegedly destroying or concealing video evidence in relation to Ambler’s death.
The lawsuit also says Lewis reported his mental health issues, which include anxiety, to jail staff after he had a panic attack while being assaulted and restrained by personnel at the jail, which caused his broken shoulder. Lewis alleges deputies used excessive force in the situation and thus violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“As a result of being ridiculed on the show, [Lewis] suffered significant harm including the
loss of his employment and significant emotional distress,” the lawsuit reads.
KXAN reached out to Williamson County about the lawsuit. A spokesperson replied they cannot comment on pending or current litigation.
In September 2020, the Texas Rangers said it was investigating five Williamson County use-of-force cases.
When reached by phone at his home on Tuesday, Chody said he did not know about the lawsuit and had no comment.