By Michael Nolan
A wrongful death suit brought by the family of Javier Ambler against Williamson County concluded on Tuesday with the county agreeing to pay the family $5 million. Ambler, an unarmed Black man, was murdered by officers J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden as they subjected him to four rounds of tasering after being pulled over for allegedly failing to dim his headlights for oncoming traffic.
Throughout the vicious police attack, Ambler cried out that he had congestive heart failure and finally that he could not breathe. Texas Office of the Attorney General declared the manner of Ambler’s death a homicide.
The pursuit and murder of Ambler happened before the cameras of Live PD, a reality TV show working in cooperation with the Williamson county police. The now-settled lawsuit claimed that show’s involvement encouraged the recklessness of the pursuit and the excessive force which ultimately killed him.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is notorious for its brutal policing and its attention-seeking former Sheriff, Robert Chody, who brought Live PD in and reinforced the police forces’s anti-people practices. The department was also known to have encouraged use of force through monetary awards like gift cards.
Williamson county sheriff Robert Chody is charged with evidence tampering related to Ambler’s murder. He was involved in instructing Live PD to destroy the video footage of Ambler’s murder, claiming that the internal investigation had concluded. Chody had previously tampered with records in order to arrange for an unnecessary and excessive SWAT raid for the benefit of the show.
Williamson county will pay $1.6 million of the agreed $5 million, with the remaining 3.3 million being covered by the county’s insurance policy with Traveler’s Insurance.
J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden have been indicted on manslaughter charges, and Sheriff Chody along with the county’s general council, Jason Nassour, have been indicted on charges of tampering with evidence. No court date is set for any of these cases.
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