AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill that would ban reality television shows from contracting with state and local law enforcement passed in the Texas House 110-34 Thursday.
The bill was created by State Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) in response to the in-custody death of Javier Ambler, whose encounter with Williamson County deputies was captured by cameras for the show ‘Live PD’ in March 2019.
The Ambler footage never aired on the now-canceled A&E reality show, but the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office was frequently featured. During the agency’s time on the show, one man died and another was seriously hurt after encounters with deputies. Both times, ‘Live PD’ cameras were on scene.
In August 2019, Williamson County voted to terminate its contract with the production company.
In a previous interview with KXAN, Talarico said the presence of ‘Live PD’ cameras negatively influenced how deputies acted.
“If you watch the video of Javier Ambler’s murder, you see officers much more aggressively than they otherwise would have if there wasn’t a reality TV crew following them around,” Talarico previously told KXAN.
He wants to make sure this kind of situation doesn’t happen again.
“Policing is not entertainment,” said Talarico in a statement Thursday. “I’m proud that Democrats and Republicans came together to pass this bill to protect our citizens and restore integrity in law enforcement.”
Attorneys for the family of Ambler released the below statement on their behalf in response to the bill’s passing in the house:
“We agree entirely with Representative Talarico. Policing is not and never should have been treated as entertainment. That it was by Williamson County is indefensible. While we will prove our case in court, the Ambler family is very pleased that the Texas House has passed this bill. If the Senate does the same, it will help stop the senseless killing of unarmed Black people like Javier Ambler and inevitably lead other states to pass similar legislation.”
The bill now moves to the Texas Senate.