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Two former Texas sheriff’s deputies are facing manslaughter charges in the death of a black man who was tased following a car chase filmed by a reality TV film crew, authorities said.
Javier Ambler, 40, died in March 2019 after Williamson County deputies pursued him for more than 20 minutes for allegedly failing to dim his headlights — as a crew from A&E’s “Live PD” filmed the encounter outside Austin.
Former Williamson County Sheriff’s Deputy James Johnson, 36, and Zachary Camden, 26, have been indicted by a grand jury on second-degree manslaughter charges in Ambler’s death, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said Tuesday.
“With these indictments, we have taken another critical step towards justice for the Ambler family and for our community,” Garza said. “While we can never take away the pain of the Ambler family, the grand jury has sent a clear message that no one is above the law.”
Bail for Johsnon and Camden was set at $150,000, Garza said. Both were arrested Tuesday and released within an hour after posting bond, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said.
Ambler, a former postal worker, died after the deputies tased him several times as he begged “I can’t breathe” and said he had congestive heart failure, according to a federal lawsuit filed by his family alleging now-former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody “encouraged” deputies to be entertaining while filming “Live PD.”
The show was canceled by A&E in June following weeks of protests surrounding the police-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and reports of Ambler’s death.
In a statement, attorneys for the former deputies said Johnson and Camden are “neither morally nor legally responsible” for his Ambler’s death.
“We are requesting a trial as soon as possible where we can ensure politics, campaign promises and sensationalized media portrayals will not distort the truth of what occurred,” attorneys Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell said.
The footage of Ambler never aired on the show due to its policy against showing a fatality.
A death-in-custody report showed Ambler never tried to assault the deputies or made any threats toward them, the Austin American-Statesman reported last June.
Chody, meanwhile, was indicted in September for allegedly destroying or concealing video footage in the probe into Amber’s death.
With Post wires
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