TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — On Wednesday, prosecutors from the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office were sworn in as special prosecutors in two cases against two former Williamson County officials — related to the in-custody death of Javier Ambler.
Former WilCo Sheriff Robert Chody and former general counsel Jason Nassour face felony charges of tampering with evidence in the March 2019 death, which was recorded during a taping of the A&E reality show “Live P.D.”
The incident began when WCSO deputies pursued Ambler on a chase after he reportedly failed to dim his headlights for oncoming traffic. The chase led all the way into Austin at around 1:30 a.m.
While the chase was never aired on television, all footage from the scene was also destroyed.
Then-Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said initial findings in the investigations show that Ambler notified officers he had a congenital heart defect before he was tased four times. In body camera footage from Austin Police Department — who also responded to the scene — Ambler can be heard saying, “I have congestive heart failure,” and “I can’t breathe.”
Williamson County Sheriff’s Office denied the claims.
In a statement on Wednesday, attorneys for the Ambler family said:
“The Ambler family is encouraged by the now combined prosecution of both Williamson and Travis counties for the senseless and very public death of Javier Ambler by deputies as the reality TV cameras rolled. Today’s announcement that charges will be streamlined for both counties jointly to prosecute is one we see as a more efficient — and ideally expeditious — path to justice.”Ambler family attorneys
The Javier Ambler video
The existence of the missing video is all because of WCSO’s involvement in the now-cancelled A&E law enforcement reality program, “Live P.D.“
According to the show’s production company, Big Fish Entertainment, the show contract stated that the company could destroy any un-used footage within 30 days of filming.
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said, “To say that this footage does or doesn’t exist — we have no idea. Only the sheriff’s office and ‘Live PD’ truly know whether it exists.”
The charge against Chody, from a Williamson County District Court, claims belief the former sheriff acted to “destroy, or conceal a record, document, or thing; namely, video recordings and audio recordings, with intent to impair their availability as evidence in the investigation.”
Chody denied accusations of a cover-up and claimed the charges were motivated by politics.
Former Williamson County deputies James Johnson and Zachary Camden, were also indicted for their involvement in Ambler’s death. They face manslaughter charges of using a stun gun and restraints against Ambler, even after knowing of his condition.