Texas sheriff indicted after probe into Black man’s death

By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A grand jury on Monday indicted a Texas sheriff on charges accusing him of destroying or concealing video in an investigation into the death in custody of a Black man, Javier Ambler, that was filmed by a police reality TV series “Live PD.”

Williamson County records show Sheriff Robert Chody is facing the third-degree felony charge that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He was booked into his jail Monday on a $10,000 bond.

In June, Williamson County prosecutors announced an investigation “involving possible tampering with evidence” following the 40-year-old Ambler’s death in March 2019. Ambler died after Williamson County sheriff’s deputies repeatedly used stun guns on him, despite his pleas that he was sick and couldn’t breathe.

Travis County prosecutors are separately investigating the use of force in Ambler’s death.

Court records show Chody was indicted on charges that as an investigation into Ambler’s death was underway, the sheriff did “destroy or conceal” recordings “with intent to impair their ability as evidence in the investigation.” Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment but they scheduled a Monday afternoon news conference.

Chody, who is running for reelection in November, scheduled his own news conference later Monday. His booking photo posted by the jail showed Chody smiling in a suit, standing in front of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office logo.

Williamson County deputies attempted to pull Ambler over on March 28, 2019, near downtown Austin because he failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic, according to a report first published by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV. The deputies were being filmed for A&E Network’s real-time police show “Live PD,” a feature of the arrest that prosecutors said was particularly troubling.

Police body camera video of Ambler’s death shows the gasping 400-pound (180-kilogram) man telling the deputies that he wants to comply with their demands but that he can’t because he has congestive heart failure.

“I am not resisting,” Ambler cries. “Sir, I can’t breathe. … Please. … Please.”

Investigators with the Williamson County sheriff’s department of internal affairs determined that the deputies didn’t violate pursuit or use-of-force policies. Their report doesn’t indicate whether the deputies were disciplined or forced to take leave.

A&E has said its video never aired because of a policy against showing a death, and it did not keep the footage after it was informed that the initial investigation had closed. A&E said neither the network nor the show’s producers “were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the District Attorney’s office.”

Latest in News

News

Joyce Beatty Initiates Rosa Parks National Holiday

News

LGBTQ Veterans Discharged for Sexual Orientation to Receive VA Benefits

News

Search Continues for Jelani Day Who’s Been Missing Since August

News

George Holliday, Who Filmed Rodney King Beating, Dies From COVID-19

Denzel Washington

News

Denzel Washington Stars in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

News

Couple Who Aimed Guns at BLM Protestors Facing Law License Suspension

News

Gallup: U.S. Approval of Interracial Marriage at 94%

Minneapolis Cop charged

News

Former Deputy Charged in Death of Teen Represented by Ben Crump