TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and former county attorney’s office general counsel Jason Nassour face new charges related to the March 2019 in-custody death of Javier Ambler.
Both Chody and Nassour were previously charged with felony tampering with evidence in the Ambler incident. Both men are now also charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence with intent to impair their availability in an investigation.
Ambler’s death was recorded during a taping of the now-canceled A&E law enforcement reality show “Live PD,” which WCSO was featured on. The chase that ended in Javier Ambler’s death was never aired on television and all footage from the scene was destroyed.
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.
Former Travis County DA Margaret Moore said last year initial findings in the investigations show 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.”
According to Big Fish Entertainment, which produced “Live PD,” the show contract stated the company could destroy any unused footage within 30 days of filming.
After his arrest last September, Chody said, “I did not tamper with evidence,” and said he did not try to shut out the DA’s office from getting evidence. At that time, Chody was up for re-election and claimed the investigation and charges were a bid to topple his campaign.
E.G. Morris, Chody’s attorney, told KXAN on Tuesday, in part: “In addition to numerous other deficiencies in the State’s case, they have indicted Sheriff Chody for following federal statutory law and a written policy of the Wilco Sheriff’s office in effect at the time that prohibited law enforcement from seizing the unaired footage at the scene… We presented the DA’s office prior to indictment with an expert in the area of media law that told them that their proposed prosecution was preempted by federal law. Please ask Mr. Garza if his prosecutors informed the grand jurors that they were being asked to indict Mr. Chody contrary to federal law.”
“I know that these indictments will not bring peace to the Ambler family. No parent should have to bury their child,” said Travis County District Attorney José Garza. “But we remain committed to seeing this through on behalf of not just Javier Ambler, but also our community.”
Nassour’s bond was set at $15,000.