Two former Texas sheriff’s deputies are facing manslaughter charges for the 2019 death of a Black man following a car chase where authorities were joined by the “Live PD” camera crew.
On Tuesday (March 30), a grand jury indicted deputies Zachary Camden and James Johnson on one count of second-degree manslaughter each in Javier Ambler’s death, announced Travis County District Attorney José Garza.
“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.”
Back in 2019, the Texas deputies pursued Ambler during a 22-minute car chase. Once the car chase ended, he was restrained and tased at least three times. Before passing out, he told the officers that he couldn’t breathe and had a heart condition. His final moments were caught on the police bodycams and “Live PD” camera footage, but Sheriff Robert Chody reportedly destroyed that video evidence.
Ambler, who was a father of two and former postal worker, “died of congestive heart failure and hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity, in combination with forcible restraint,” reports NBC News. His death was ruled a homicide.
On Tuesday, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, lawyers representing both deputies, released a joint statement describing the indictments as a “political talking point.” The statement also said that Ambler was pulled over for a “felony offense of evading arrest in a vehicle,” not failing to dim his headlights.
“Mr. Ambler’s physical exertion in resisting the three officers it took to get him into handcuffs no doubt contributed to his medical emergency, but Mr. Johnson and Mr. Camden are neither morally nor legally responsible for his death,” the statement said.
Last year, Ambler’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the deputies engaged in a reckless car chase to make it entertaining for the “Live PD” cameras.