Report: 'Live PD' Says It Destroyed Video Of Black Man Dying In Police Custody

Report: 'Live PD' Says It Destroyed Video Of Black Man Dying In Police Custody

10:37pm Jun 10, 2020
In this image made from a March 28, 2019, body camera video provided by the Austin, Texas, police, Williamson County deputies hold down Javier Ambler as one of them uses a stun gun on him during his arrest. He eventually died.
In this image made from a March 28, 2019, body camera video provided by the Austin, Texas, police, Williamson County deputies hold down Javier Ambler as one of them uses a stun gun on him during his arrest. He eventually died.
Austin Police Department via AP / AP

Updated at 10:24 p.m. ET

Video captured by a reality television production crew showing the death of black man while he was in the custody of law enforcement officers in Texas, has reportedly been destroyed, according to an Austin newspaper.

That means the footage "can no longer be turned over to Austin investigators," reported the Austin American-Statesmen, which was in touch with representatives for the unscripted series Live PD on Tuesday.

Cable network A&E announced Wednesday that it has stopped production of the show and released a statement saying, "This is a critical time in our nation's history. ... Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them."

A&E said it would meet with civil rights leaders as well as police departments.

The revelation about the destruction of the video comes after the Statesmen and Austin ABC affiliate KVUE reported this week on the details of the March 2019 death of Javier Ambler.

They also obtained body camera footage from an Austin police officer showing Ambler's final moments.

These events come to light as the United States is confronting decades of issues surrounding systemic racism and chronic mistreatment of minority communities by police. The death of George Floyd, a black man who died last month when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, has sparked protests in the U.S. and internationally.

Aside from their deaths being captured on video, there are other similarities in the way both men died.

The bodycam footage shows that, like Floyd, Ambler pleaded for mercy and told Williamson County sheriff's deputies he couldn't breathe. Ambler was shot repeatedly with a stun gun as law enforcement worked to restrain him. Ambler also told them he suffered from congestive heart failure.

"He cried, 'Save me,' before deputies deployed a final shock," the Statesmen reported.

The paper noted Ambler, who was 40 at the time of his death, was pulled over by Williamson County sheriff's deputies, who noticed he failed to dim his SUV's headlights to oncoming traffic.

Deputies chased Ambler for 20 minutes after he did not stop, the Statesman reported, and Ambler eventually crashed his vehicle.

KVUE reported the sheriff's office attempted to "shield information from release since receiving its first request in February." It also said Ambler's death was ruled a homicide.

Elected officials in Williamson County, including some members of the County Commissioners Court and state Rep. James Talarico, are now calling on Sheriff Robert Chody to resign, NPR member station KUT in Austin reported.

"Your department killed #JavierAmbler, filmed it for a reality TV show, then covered it up for 15 months," Talarico tweeted Wednesday. "I'm not calling for your resignation because I'm a progressive. I'm calling for your resignation because I'm a human being."

As NPR's Eric Deggans reported, a spokesperson for A&E said Live PD had been pulled this month "out of respect for the families of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives, in consultation with the departments we follow," the network said in a statement, according to the entertainment publication Variety.

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