WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - Two commissioners in Williamson County are asking Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody to resign in light of details of the officer-in-custody death of Javier Ambler.
Photo from Facebook page of Javier Gata Ambler posted on May 26, 2016.
Commissioner Cynthia Long asked for Sheriff Chody's resignation saying in part that she's "outraged" over the circumstances of Ambler's death and "shocked at Sheriff Chody's failure to cooperate with the investigation."
Long's full statement is as follows:
"I am shocked and disgusted by what I have seen in the last weeks regarding the use of force issues across the nation. Now, I am looking at one for the first time in my own community, my own county. As the reporting on the in-custody death of Javier Ambler has unfolded over the last 24 hours, I, like you, am outraged over the circumstances of his death, shocked at Sheriff Chody’s failure to cooperate with the investigation into Mr. Ambler’s death, and heartbroken for his family and loved ones who almost 15 months later still have no answers.
These actions and results of other actions that are coming to light have shown a callous disregard for the very laws Robert Chody swore to uphold. Today I say, “Enough. Sheriff Chody must resign immediately. His actions and failure of leadership demonstrate he lacks the moral authority to be a cop and much less Williamson County’s top cop.” This tragedy occurred on Robert Chody’s watch. The deputies involved should be fired immediately and all involved must cooperate fully with the investigation. I am NOT saying, “Defund or disband the police. I am saying get rid of the ones that discredit and disgrace the badge and let the good cops do their job.”
Meantime, Commissioner Terry Cook joined Long in asking for Sheriff Chody's resignation saying in part in a Facebook post, "In my strongest voice possible, I call on Robert Chody to resign."
Sheriff Chody responded to both Long and Cook on social media saying on Twitter "I look forward to continuing to serve as the Sheriff of Williamson County." He posted a lengthier statement saying that Long is "misinformed" and that "it is not surprising" that Cook would call for his resignation.
The full statement from Chody is as follows:
"In her eagerness to "get ahead of this issue," Commissioner Long has requested I resign before hearing the full set of facts. The facts are that our department remains willing to participate in the Travis County D.A.'s investigation, but we have not been asked to do so. We participated in the APD investigation, the results of which are available to the Travis County D.A. Commissioner Long is misinformed.
In terms of Commissioner Cook, it is not surprising to me to see a left leaning member of the Court call for my resignation. Across our country, Democrats are turning against law enforcement and attempting to remove its funding and leadership. Their agenda recognizes no distinctions between incidents and presumes guilt before due process. I will not back down in the face of such a partisan and cynical move."
The Williamson County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Chody responded in an earlier tweet to the claims from Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore that she was having trouble getting information about the incident from the sheriff's office.
The statement from the sheriff's office says:
"While we cannot comment on the Ambler incident due to the ongoing investigation by the Travis County D.A., we can correct misleading statements made by the Travis County D.A. The Williamson County Sheriff's Department remains ready and willing to participate in the investigation being conducted by the Travis County D.A.'s office. However, the Travis County D.A. has not contacted us for any reason related to this investigation.
Any attempt to say we have slowed or otherwise impeded the investigation is absolutely false. We participated fully in the investigation launched by the Austin Police Department, the results of which have been forwarded to the Travis County D.A.
In terms of any LIVE PD footage, as a department, we do not control that footage. However, I join the Travis County D.A. in requesting that LIVE PD make any existing footage available for review by Travis County prosecutors."
Sheriff Chody retweeted the statement on his Twitter account and added, "In her scramble to justify why it has taken her office so long to address the Ambler incident, the Travis County D.A. says our Department is stonewalling. Nothing could be further from the truth. We remain ready to assist the investigation in any way."
Javier Ambler died while being detained by Williamson County deputies in March 2019. He was chased into Austin by the deputies for allegedly not dimming his headlights.
Photo from Facebook page of Javier Gata Ambler posted on July 24, 2014.
After crashing his vehicle near the intersection of Saint John’s and Bennett, Williamson County deputies struggled to handcuff Ambler, resulting in the use of a stun gun several times.
Investigators tell FOX 7 that the body cam video released to a local media outlet of the arrest was recorded from an Austin police officer at the scene. In the video, Ambler can be heard telling officers and deputies that he has a heart condition and that he cannot breathe.
Moore tells FOX 7 Austin that a camera crew with the show "Live PD" was on the scene at the time of Ambler's arrest. The crew was shadowing deputies as part of the show and the incident was never broadcast.
Moore also confirmed she is having trouble getting information from the sheriff's office as well as information from the TV production company. The case is being investigated by Moore’s office because the wreck happened in Travis County.
Moore released a statement on Twitter about the investigation, saying that for the last year, the WCSO has "stonewalled" their investigation.
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick tells FOX 7 Austin he was not immediately informed about the incident by the sheriff's office and recently learned of the details. He went on to say that his office currently has several other unrelated excessive force investigations underway involving incidents with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office.