Ex-sheriff charged with destroying Live PD footage of the death of Javier Ambler

William Hughes
·2 min read
Live PD
Live PD

It’s been less than a year since A&E canceled Live PD, by far the most successful series on its mid-2020 roster. (On most of cable, in fact; the show regularly pulled in 2 million viewers per episode.) The series—which took the old COPS formula and updated it by including live broadcasts from police ride-alongs—was both immensely popular and heavily criticized for roughly the same reasons: Its mixture of low-brow exploitation and Grade-A, “Let’s get ’em!” copaganda. It’s not for nothing that, after the series was canceled in the wake of the 2020 #BlackLivesMatter protests, its EMT and firefighter-focused spin-off, Live Rescue, was unable to even come close to matching the numbers Live PD used to post with its endless tide of reruns of “Good Guys” chasing “Bad Guys.”

Now, the events that brought the series down have been dragged back into the light: Specifically, the 2019 killing of Javier Ambler, a Texas man who was tased multiple times by police being followed by a Live PD crew, who continued to film even as Ambler, repeatedly stating that he couldn’t breathe, and that he suffered from congestive heart failure, died in police custody. But when investigators began looking into Ambler’s death—after a Williamson County Sheriff’s Office internal affairs report found that the officers in question had done “nothing wrong”—they discovered that the Live PD footage of the event had been destroyed. This was allegedly on the orders of now former Williamson sheriff Robert Chody, who reportedly told the TV show’s staff that the investigation into Ambler’s death was closed, and, that per a standing agreement between the show and the department, the footage should be deleted.

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Now Chody has formally surrendered to Travis County police due to charges related to those deletions. Per The Daily Beast, the former sheriff, who’s been charged in both Williamson and Travis counties, surrendered to police on evidence tampering charges on Thursday, after which he was released on a $15,000 bail. Chody previously surrendered to Williamson County officials; he faced a pre-trial hearing on similar charges in January.

Live PD was canceled by A&E back in June of 2020; although it had already been pulled from the air after the death of George Floyd, new information about the Ambler killing more-or-less ensured it wouldn’t be coming back.