AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A former Texas sheriff has been charged for the second time with evidence tampering in an investigation into the in-custody death of a man that was filmed by the police reality TV series "Live PD," officials announced Thursday, April 1.
Robert Chody was booked into a Travis County jail on Thursday and released 20 minutes later on a $15,000 bond, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff's office said.
The charge stems from the destruction of video that showed 40-year-old Javier Ambler's last moments in March 2019, when deputies repeatedly shocked him with stun guns. Chody was not present when the deputies allegedly killed Ambler.
The latest charge came about because Williamson County deputies crossed into neighboring Travis County as they pursued Ambler for 22 minutes. Ambler was suspected of failing to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic. The new charge raises questions about where Chody will face trial.
Two deputies were indicted on manslaughter charges tied to the Ambler's death earlier this week and another county official was charged with evidence tampering.
Ambler, a former postal worker, died after deputies used stun guns on him despite his pleas that he was sick and couldn't breathe. "Live PD" camera crews traveling with the deputies filmed the pursuit and stop in suburban Austin. The A&E Network canceled the show in June.
Police body camera video of Ambler's death was published by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV last year. It shows the gasping 400-pound man telling the deputies that he wants to comply with their demands but can't because he has congestive heart failure.
A&E has said the video never aired because of a policy against showing a death and that it did not keep the footage after the initial investigation had closed.
Chody was charged in Williamson County in September with destroying or concealing recordings "with intent to impair" the investigation of Ambler's death. He said at the time that he never tampered with evidence and accused prosecutors of politicizing the case.
Internal affairs investigators with the sheriff's department determined that the deputies involved in Ambler's death didn't violate pursuit or use-of-force policies. Their report doesn't indicate whether the deputies were disciplined.
A&E has said neither the network nor the show's producers "were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the District Attorney's office."
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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