TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Former Williamson County sheriff’s Deputies J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden have been charged with manslaughter in the death of Javier Ambler, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Ambler, 40, led deputies on a vehicle pursuit in 2019. The chase lasted 22 minutes and ended when Ambler crashed into trees in neighboring Travis County. At the termination of the pursuit deputies deployed Tasers.
Ambler complained that he could not breathe and was suffering from congestive heart failure. He ultimately died.
Grand jurors issued the indictments Monday, but they were not made public until Tuesday when the Travis County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement and the two turned themselves in to jail. Bail was set at $150,000 each, and both men have been released.
“With these indictments, we have taken another critical step towards justice for the Ambler family and for our community,” District Attorney Jose Garza (D) said in a statement. “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.”
Deputies used a Taser on Ambler four times. He eventually became unresponsive. CPR did not save him. The autopsy linked the restraint by law enforcement to congestive heart failure, hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and morbid obesity. The manner of his death was determined to be a homicide. Nonetheless, a report to the state attorney general’s office suggested it could have been “justifiable,” Law&Crime reported.
Ambler’s death led to repercussions for all those involved. Camera crews for the A&E show Live PD were at the scene. The show was eventually canceled.
Body cam footage of Ambler’s death was publicized in June 2020 amid intensifying debate after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The production company behind LivePD recently sued, saying Williamson County sheriff’s officials and Austin police officials threw the show under the bus.
Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and former Williamson County general counsel Jason Nassour were indicted last year for felony evidence tampering surrounding video of Ambler’s death, Law Officer reported.