A grand jury has indicted Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody on a felony evidence tampering charge in the case of Javier Ambler, a Black man who died in 2019 after being stunned with a Taser multiple times by deputies.
The grand jury accused Chody of destroying or concealing video and audio recordings “with the intent to impair their ability as evidence in the investigation,” according to the indictment. Jason Nassour, a county attorney, was also indicted on the same charge.
Chody said he didn’t tamper with evidence at a press conference Monday afternoon.
“The Travis county District Attorney dropped the ball on the investigation, and when the video surfaced during her campaign, she had to find someone to blame for her own mistakes,” Chody said during the press conference.
Chody was booked into Williamson County Jail on Monday and was released after posting a $10,000 bond, KVUE reported.
Ambler died after a 22-minute police chase that started after he failed to dim his headlights.
Body camera footage that was made public in June by the Austin American-Statesman showed deputies shocked Ambler with a Taser four times before his body went limp. The video showed Ambler pleading that he could not breathe and that he had a heart condition. Ambler was declared dead in a hospital about an hour after he was last shocked, the Statesman reported.
The incident was caught on camera for an episode of the since-canceled police reality show “Live PD,” that never aired.
The felony charge comes months after community members, local and state leaders called for the sheriff’s resignation and termination of the deputies involved in Ambler’s death. Chody has said he will not resign.
Ambler’s death and the death of Mike Ramos in Austin became rallying cries this summer in Texas for protesters already angry about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were both killed by police officers.
Michael Ramos, a Black and Latino man, died in April after being shot by an Austin police officer. He was first shot with a bean bag round as he stood next to his car, hands in the air, shouting that he was unarmed. Ramos ducked into the car and had started to drive away when an officer shot him with a rifle.
In a statements following the indictment, Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, once again called for Chody’s resignation.
Talarico said he is working with the Ambler family to write legislation to ban Texas police departments from working with reality TV shows like “Live PD.”
Article by Stacy Fernandez, texastribune.org