(CNN)A grand jury has indicted Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and former Williamson County general counsel Jason Nassour for tampering with physical evidence in the investigation of the death of Javier Ambler II, a Black man who died during an arrest last year, the district attorney announced Monday.
Ambler, 40, died in March 2019 after a car chase that started in Williamson County, Texas, and ended in the nearby city of Austin. Sheriff Robert ChodyDuring the arrest, Ambler can be heard on body camera footage telling sheriff’s deputies he couldn’t breathe several times. But there was also additional video from the A&E reality show “Live PD,” that accompanied officers on the chase. The district attorney announced in June that Williamson County employees had been in touch with the show, which has since been canceled. A&E has said the footage never aired and that 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.” A spokesperson for A&E said Tuesday the network had no comment.Read MoreChody and Nassour were both arrested and released on bond earlier Monday, Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said in a news conference. Their first court date is scheduled for November 30.In a press conference on Monday, Chody denied the charge. The sheriff and his lawyer criticized the district attorneys of both Williamson and neighboring Travis counties for using him as a “scapegoat” after they failed to investigate Ambler’s death until more than a year after the incident.Nassour told CNN on Tuesday that he was not able to comment at this time.Indictment mentions video and audio recordingsThe Williamson County District Attorney’s office says it was notified in May 2020 of Ambler’s death. JUST WATCHEDTexas man heard saying ‘I can’t breathe’ during fatal arrestReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Texas man heard saying ‘I can’t breathe’ during fatal arrest 02:49In June, the district attorney’s office announced it was investigating the possible tampering of evidence “by personnel from Williamson County Agencies who have had contact or communications with the television show, ‘Live PD.'””Together with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the Austin Police Department Special Investigations Unit, we brought this information to a Williamson County grand jury,” Dick said this week. “As that investigation continued, the Williamson County grand jury heard from 19 different witnesses.”3 recordings. 3 cries of 'I can't breathe.' 3 black men dead after interactions with policeWhile the indictment does not specifically mention “Live PD,” it alleges that Chody and Nassour acted to “destroy or conceal a record, document, or thing; namely, video recordings and audio recordings, with intent to impair their availability as evidence in the investigation.” The offense is a third-degree felony. If found guilty, Chody and Nassour could face up to 10 years in jail. Dan Abrams, who formerly hosted the show, told CNN in June there was a policy in place for the show to destroy footage after a certain period of time. He said the video was retained for three months per the request of Williamson County while they investigated the incident. “They then informed ‘Live PD’ the investigation was over. That was a year ago. That was the last anyone from ‘Live PD’ had heard about the video,” Abrams said.Bodycam footage captured the arrestAuthorities released body camera footage of Ambler’s death in June, and it gained national attention following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.Prosecutors are investigating possible evidence tampering in Javier Ambler's deathThe video shows deputies trying to handcuff Ambler as he’s on the ground outside his car, which authorities said came to rest after a minor crash during a vehicle pursuit in the early morning hours of March 28, 2019. Ambler got out of his vehicle with his hands raised but resisted deputies’ attempts to handcuff him and refused to follow commands, according to a report from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. At least one deputy used a Taser on Ambler, the report says. In the video, recorded by the body camera of an Austin police officer, deputies are seen struggling with Ambler by the time the officer arrives. Ambler says, “I have congestive heart failure,” as well as “I can’t breathe,” several times.Within minutes, Ambler was handcuffed and officers appear to realize he was unresponsive. Officers removed the handcuffs and attempted CPR, but Ambler was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly after.