AUSTIN, Texas - After the death of Javier Ambler, Texas State Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) collaborated with Ambler's family to craft House Bill 54, which would ban Texas law enforcement agencies from participating in reality TV shows.
HB 54, also called Javier Ambler's Law, passed the Texas House on April 15 in a 110-34 vote and is now headed to the Texas Senate.
"Policing is not entertainment," said Talarico in a news release. "I’m proud that Democrats and Republicans came together to pass this bill to protect our citizens and restore integrity in law enforcement."
WHO IS JAVIER AMBLER?
Javier Ambler was killed during an altercation with Williamson County deputies. On March 28, 2019, deputies pursued Ambler's car from Williamson County into Travis County where he died while deputies were trying to take him into custody. Deputies pursued him because he allegedly failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic.
After crashing his vehicle near the intersection of Saint John’s and Bennett, deputies struggled to handcuff Ambler, resulting in the use of a stun gun several times.
Police body camera video from the Austin Police Department of Ambler’s death shows the gasping 400-pound 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."
A Live PD camera crew was also on the scene at the time of Ambler's arrest, shadowing deputies as part of the show, but the incident was never broadcast and video was deleted. Big Fish Entertainment says in a recently filed lawsuit that WCSO and APD misrepresented information about the video Live PD recorded.
A&E Network canceled Live PD following weeks of protests inspired by the death of George Floyd and reports on the Ambler case. The cancellation was announced a day after the similar show "Cops," on the air for 33 seasons, was dropped by the Paramount Network.
FORMER OFFICIALS, FORMER DEPUTIES CHARGED
Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody was booked into the Travis County Jail on April 1 on a tampering with evidence charge in connection to the Ambler case. Chody's bond was set at $15,000 and he was reportedly released the same day.
Chody's booking came a day after the Travis County district attorney announced that former Williamson County General Counsel Jason Nassour was indicted on the same charge following the in-custody death of Ambler.
The charge stems from events surrounding the death of Mr. Ambler and missing video footage from Live PD crews. The video remains unaccounted for to this day, says Travis County DA José Garza.
"I know that these indictments will not bring peace to the Ambler family. No parent should have to bury their child," said Garza. "But we remain committed to seeing this through on behalf of not just Javier Ambler, but also our community."
In 2020, Nassour and Chody were indicted in Williamson County.
The charge will be prosecuted by the District Attorney Office’s Civil Rights Unit and is pending in the 299th Judicial District Court.