The Williamson County Sheriff has been booked into the jail he is in charge of overseeing after he was arrested and indicted on a tampering with evidence charge in connection with the death of Javier Ambler, a Black man who died at the hands of deputies in 2019 despite him pleading with them that he can’t breathe and suffers from congestive heart failure.
Sheriff Robert Chody was taken into custody after an indictment was issued from the 277th District Court in Williamson County, according to KXAN. According to the indictment, Chody is accused of acting 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.”
Chody denied the charges against him.
“Let me be clear, I did not tamper with evidence,” he said in a news conference.
Chody accused Williamson County Shawn Dick of “picking and choosing” the crimes he decides to prosecute.
Jason Nassour, who acts as general counsel of the county attorney’s office, was also indicted on the same charge.
Ambler was killed on March 28, 2019 after deputies attempted to pull him over for failing to dim his car’s headlights.
After he initially attempted to flee, Ambler pulled over within Austin city limits and exited the car with his hands up. Deputies said he resisted and that he pushed them back as they tried handcuffing him. He refused to follow the verbal commands, according to Williamson County Sheriff’s Office case report.
Multiple times on the video, Ambler is also heard saying he can’t breathe and that he’s not resisting. Eventually, officers realized Ambler was unresponsive and tried administering CPR. His death was ruled a homicide due to congestive heart failure and the forcible restraint.
The only available incident of the video came from an Austin police officer who responded to the chase, which was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
The incident was also recorded by “Live PD,” which followed around Williamson County deputies as part of the show. However, the footage has since been deleted, leaving unanswered questions about what led to Ambler’s death.
The show was canceled by A&E following the reporting on Ambler’s death.
If convicted, Chody would faces between two and 10 years of prison or probation and a fine of up to $10,000. Dick said he was not seeking Chody’s removal from office, just presenting the criminal case against him.
The use of force investigation related to Ambler’s death is still under investigation, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said.