Williamson County, Texas, announced Tuesday a $5 million settlement has been approved to settle a lawsuit in the wrongful death of Javier Ambler II, a 40-year-old Black man who died during an arrest in 2019, according to a post from the county’s official Twitter account.
The county will pay about $1.6 million while the rest will come out of the county’s insurance, the tweet said.
Ambler died after a car chase that started in Williamson County and ended in the nearby city of Austin. During the arrest, Ambler can be heard on body camera footage telling sheriff’s deputies several times he couldn’t breathe.
There was also additional video from the A&E reality show “Live PD,” which accompanied officers on the chase. A&E has said the footage never aired and the network and its producers were never “asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the district attorney’s office.”
Attorneys for the Ambler family, including Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci, Jeff Edwards and Bhavani Raveendran, said in a statement, “While the Ambler family remains devastated by the loss of their son and loving father, they are proud that they fought for him and hope that this settlement and the changes that have occurred in Williamson County, Texas as a result of this case send a powerful message to law enforcement that ignoring a person’s pleas that they cannot breathe will no longer be tolerated.”
Ambler’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williamson County in October 2020, alleging then-Sheriff Robert Chody allowed the A&E show to film his officers at work because he “believes that Live PD helps his department recruit officers, and has made it an essential component of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department.” A&E was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The complaint cited multiple examples of alleged excessive violence both by the then-sheriff and his officers and added the sheriff “encouraged his officers to engage in dangerous, high-risk police tactics because it made for more entertaining television in service to Live PD.”
A grand jury indicted Chody and Jason Nassour, former Williamson County general counsel, in September 2020 for tampering with physical evidence in the investigation into Ambler’s death. Chody denied the charge and Nassour told CNN he was not able to comment at the time.
Earlier this year, a grand jury also indicted former Williamson County Deputies James Johnson and Zachary Camden on charges of second-degree manslaughter in connection with Ambler’s death. Attorneys for Johnson and Camden said their clients did not cause Ambler’s death.
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