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Prosecutors are investigating possible evidence tampering in Javier Ambler’s death

Andrew Cuomo

Prosecutors in central Texas are investigating whether there was evidence tampering in the death of Javier Ambler, a Black man who died last year while being arrested.

The Williamson County District Attorney’s office announced Friday it was investigating “the possible tampering with evidence ‘by personnel from Williamson County Agencies who have had contact or communications with the television show, Live PD.'”

Javier Ambler died last year after he told Williamson County, Texas, sheriff’s deputies that he could not breath during an arrest.

Earlier this month, authorities released body camera footage of the March 2019 incident, following months of records requests by Austin TV station KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman.

A production crew from the A&E show “Live PD” was at the arrest scene, having ridden with some of the officers. The footage never aired and neither the network “nor the producers of ‘Live PD’ were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the district attorney’s office,” A&E has said.

On Friday, the district attorneys of Williamson and Travis counties released a statement saying they have been conducting a joint investigation into Ambler’s death.

“This is a search for the truth and is necessary because even now we have not obtained the information we seek from Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody, despite his public statements pledging cooperation,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore has previously said that she had requested body cam videos from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and the television show, but hadn’t been able to obtain them.

A chase that ended in death

Ambler died following a chase on March 28, 2019.

A Williamson County deputy tried to stop Ambler when he failed to dim his car’s headlights as he drove past, according to a Williamson County sheriff’s office incident report.

Ambler kept driving for 22 minutes after the deputy tried to pull him over, authorities said. The chase ended when his Honda Pilot crashed with a grove of trees, according to the death report.

Ambler got out of his car with his hands raised, but resisted deputies’ attempts to handcuff him and refused to follow commands, a Williamson County Sheriff’s Office report says. At least one deputy used a Taser on him, the report says.

Ambler was taken to a hospital in Austin, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour after the pursuit ended, according to reports from authorities.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure and hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity, “in combination with forcible restraint,” according to the custodial death report from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The manner of death was homicide, the report reads.

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