Williamson County Commissioner condemns ‘out-of-control’ Sheriff Robert Chody during meeting

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS (KXAN) The tables continue to turn in Williamson County a week after an in-custody death has surfaced.

Javier Ambler died in custody of Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, following a chase that began in the county and ended in north Austin in March of last year.

During a Tuesday Commissioners Court meeting, Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey held off on calling for Sheriff Chody’s resignation, but further condemned his actions as Sheriff.

“I am heartbroken for the Ambler family. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you’ve gone though. I will continue to support law enforcement, I don’t support defunding police,” said Commissioner Valerie Covey. “Those who need protection would be hurt the most. The actions of law enforcement can and ruin the badge.”

Ambler can be heard on body camera footage recorded by an Austin Police Department officer saying “I can’t breathe” and informing officers that he suffered from congestive heart failure, which was included in his cause of death.

The footage was also captured by the now-canceled reality show “Live PD.” The television company has since said the footage does not exist.

MORE: ‘Live PD’ in-custody death video deleted, Sheriff Chody called to resign

“The Sheriff claims transparency is an important aspect of his department. By the way that was a selling point for participating in “Live P.D.”, that it would provide more transparency,” said Commissioner Covey. “Why is it we are just now taking about this issue 15 months after its occurrence?”

During Commissioner Court’s public comment period, the majority of the people who volunteered to speak talked about the civil unrest between the Sheriff’s Office and the community.

“Our out-of-control Sheriff whose defiance of rules and various facts of insubordination are by now quite legendary,” said Mary-Ellen, a Georgetown resident.

“Police brutality against people of color horrifies me, as well as many other people. It’s very emotional to me,” said a Round Rock resident.

MORE: Man who sued Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody for excessive force in 1998 speaks

They’re among the several calling for rapid change inside the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, but its a house divided.

“It is impossible to be the Sheriff if you don’t have the opportunity to be the Sheriff, and you’re constantly having to battle politicizing every single thing within our committees,” said Jeremy Bravo.

“Russ Boles said the citizens are against him. I’m a citizen, I’m not against him. I’m for him,” said a Williamson County resident during Tuesday’s Commissioner Court.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Valerie Covey continued to condemn his actions.

“Where is the leadership that will set ethical boundaries for our department? Where is the appropriate training? Sheriff, you say you don’t want to resign. Okay, then what changes are you willing to make for your department? Maybe it’s time for you to shake up your administration. What are you wiling to do for Wilco?” said Commissioner Covey.

Sheriff Robert Chody responded to the Commissioners remarks in a statement to KXAN Tuesday:

Commissioner Covey is incorrect regarding several points of fact. First, I did notify the Court regarding the Ambler incident. I spoke to the County Judge within 12 hours of the in custody death. I did not notify the Williamson County D.A. because the in custody death did not take place in Williamson County and was outside of his jurisdiction. Furthermore, at the time of the incident, three separate local press outlets (Spectrum Local News, CBS Austin, and KVUE) ran stories about the fact that there was a pursuit and in custody death involving the Williamson County Sheriff’s department. The notion that this issue was swept under the rug is absurd.

Additionally, regarding Live PD footage, the incident occurred during the time period where we were operating under the Commissioners Court authorized access agreement. Under that agreement, Live PD maintained control of its footage. Covey should direct any footage access questions toward Live PD, or better yet, consult the access agreement that the Commissioners Court Authorized.

In addition, the commissioners own general council was working with the county attorney the day after the in custody death. 

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