Wiliamson Co. Sheriff Robert Chody denies cover up following in-custody death investigation, blames politics

Williamson County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a new statement Thursday, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody denied accusations from Travis County DA Margaret Moore that he covered up any portion of an investigation into a man killed in police custody in 2019, claiming the allegation is politically motivated.

Earlier this week, Moore said Sheriff Chody and WCSO “stonewalled” their investigation into Javier Ambler’s death. Ambler died following a pursuit by Williamson County deputies in 2019 after he failed to dim his headlights for oncoming traffic — a chase ensued that ended in Travis County. The incident was recorded for the television show “Live P.D.” but never aired on television.

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.”

Moore said WCSO slowed the investigation by not allowing footage captured by “Live PD” to be released.

A&E Network released a statement to KXAN on Tuesday, claiming investigators didn’t ask for the footage, and didn’t retain the unaired footage at the conclusion of the investigation.

“Video of the tragic death of Javier Ambler was captured by body cams worn on the officers involved as well by the producers of Live PD who were riding with certain officers involved. The incident did not occur while Live PD was on the air but rather during the show’s hiatus, when producers are regularly out in the field gathering footage. The footage never aired on Live PD per A&E’s standards and practices because it involved a fatality.  Immediately after the incident, the Austin Police Department conducted an investigation using the body cam footage they had from the officers. Contrary to many incorrect reports, neither A&E nor the producers of Live PD were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the District Attorney’s office. As is the case with all footage taken by Live PD producers, we no longer retained the unaired footage after learning that the investigation had concluded. As with all calls we follow, we are not there to be an arm of the police or law enforcement but rather to chronicle what they do and air some of that footage and our policies were in place to avoid having footage used by law enforcement against private citizens.”

A&E NETWORK STATEMENT

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Department appearances on “Live P.D. have caused controversy and a lawsuit. Williamson County commissioners filed a lawsuit to stop Chody from re-contracting with the television show for another season. Following the latest developments, Williamson County Commissioners Terry Cook and Cynthia Long called on Sheriff Chody to resign from his position.

A&E Network announced it canceled the police series Wednesday night.

In an interview with CNN, former host of Live P.D. Dan Abrams said the series should’ve showed the Ambler incident because it “shows all sides of policing.”

Sheriff Chody added in the statement Thursday that WCSO doesn’t have jurisdiction to run the investigation into Ambler’s death in Travis County. Chody says they have fully participated in APD’s investigation.

In the statement, Chody says WCSO turned over their footage of the incident to APD investigators in April 2019.

“The Travis County DA should have access to this footage. If for some reason she does not, she could request access from our office. We have no record of such a request,” Chody says in the statement.

Moore release a statement Thursday, seeking justice in the case.

“The investigation into the death of Javier Ambler is an ongoing investigation by the Austin Police Department and the Travis County District Attorney. Because this investigation is ongoing, we are not able to comment on the particular facts related to obtaining information from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office or Live PD. We are committed to a thorough investigation and seeking justice in this case. I stand by my previous statements about this case and all pertinent facts will eventually be made public at the appropriate time.”

Travis County DA Margaret Moore

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