Last year, Javier Ambler was driving back to his Pflugerville home after a poker game with friends when he made failed to dim his bright headlights as he drove past a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy. A police chase ensued, but the sheriff’s deputy wasn’t alone in the car on March 28, 2019. Riding alongside him was a film crew from the A&E network show “Live PD.”
Less than 30 minutes after the chase began on that night 15 months ago, Ambler, a 40-year-old former postal worker, who is black, was dead. His death near downtown Austin was little covered by the media until Austin American-Statesman and KVUE reporter Tony Plohetski spent four months tracking down records and obtained a copy of the police body camera video this past week. In it, Ambler can be seen pleading with officers who are trying to handcuff him. He tells them he has congestive heart failure and that he could not breathe. This was after Ambler had been tazed at least four times.
Plohetski received a tip about the incident in February after hearing from frustrated investigators in Austin trying to secure information from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and the network’s film crew. After Plohetski’s story appeared this week, A&E officials stated their recording of Ambler’s death had been destroyed.
The police video was released just weeks after the video of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25. And the Ambler video has sparked a new round of calls for police reform, particularly in Texas.
“What happened to Javier Ambler began with really the most most minor of traffic offenses: failure to dim your headlights,” Plohetski told Texas Standard on Wednesday.
The case will now be presented to a Travis County grand jury to determine if any charges should be filed.