A Texas sheriff was indicted on felony charges of tampering with evidence in the case of Javier Ambler, a Black man who was killed by police last year during a traffic stop that escalated into a high-speed chase caught on film by a reality television show, NPR reports. Sheriff Robert Chody was released shortly after posting $10,000 bail. A Williamson County grand jury indictment accuses Chody of intentionally destroying or concealing video and audio recordings of the fatal encounter, which was filmed for the television show Live PD.
Sheriff’s deputies J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden tried to pull Ambler over for allegedly failing to dim his headlights. The routine stop became a 22-minute car chase with a helicopter and the television crew in tow. During the chase, Ambler struck a number of vehicles and eventually disabled his own. Body camera footage shows the 40-year old postal service worker being tased four times as he pleaded repeatedly for officers to stop. He repeatedly cried out in agony, telling the deputies he suffered from congestive heart failure and exclaiming, “Save me. I can’t breathe.” He died at the scene. The case went largely unnoticed by the public for months until an investigation by the Austin American-Statesman and local news station KVUE provided a detailed account of Ambler’s death and uncovered the destruction of the raw and unaired Live PD footage. Live PD was a ratings hit for A&E and had been on the air for four years. Amid nationwide protests against police brutality and a slew of recorded incidents of excessive use of force against people of color, the cable network cancelled the show.