NewsAmerica in Crisis

Actions

Live PD says it no longer has video of officer-involved fatality

CORP-Digital-Default-Image-1280x720-WPTV.png
Posted at 11:28 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 09:25:52-04

As body-worn camera footage surfaced earlier this week of a 2019 incident of an officer-involved homicide in Texas, Live PD host Dan Abrams says that the show no longer has the footage.

According to KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, and the Austin American-Statesman, 40-year-old Javier Ambler died in the custody of Williamson County deputies on March 28, 2019. Ambler had led police and Live PD camera operators on a 22-minute car chase that began when he allegedly failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic.

Body camera footage from Ambler's arrest shows that police used stun guns three times while taking him into custody, even after he told police he was suffering from congestive heart failure.

According to KVUE, an autopsy listed Ambler's death a homicide, which was later determined to be a "justifiable homicide." Medical examiners said Ambler's heart condition and his weight "in combination with forcible restraint" led to his death. Examiners also said Ambler was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of his death.

The deputies were cleared of any wrongdoing after investigators reviewed body-worn camera footage.

On Tuesday, Abrams said that the show followed its procedure in not airing the footage. Abrams said that the show has a policy of not broadcasting fatalities.

Live PD, which airs on A&E, embeds cameras in police units throughout the United States. The episodes are aired with a slight delay, but give viewers a glimpse of police interactions with the public.

The footage captured in Williamson County, Texas, was not part of Live PD’s live broadcast. The show captures footage of officers and deputies to be used during live broadcasts.

Abrams said because the investigation had closed, Live PD did not retain the footage.

“Immediately after the incident, the Austin Police Department conducted an investigation using the body cam footage they had from the officers,” Abrams said in a tweet. “Contrary to many incorrect reports, neither A&E 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.

“As is the case with all footage taken by Live PD producers, we no longer retained the unaired footage after learning that the investigation had concluded. As with all calls we follow, we are not there to be an arm of the police or law enforcement but rather to chronicle what they do and air some of that footage and our policies were in place to avoid having footage used by law enforcement against private citizens."

Abrams’ announcement comes as rival TV police show “Cops” announced it is ending its 31-year run, according to Variety. Abrams said Live PD is committed to staying on the air.

Earlier in the day, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody called on Live PD to release the footage.

“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,” Chody said.