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2 former Texas sheriff's deputies indicted over Javier Ambler's death

A Texas grand jury has indicted two former sheriff's deputies from Williamson County, Texas, on second-degree manslaughter charges over the death in custody of Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old Black man.

The big picture: Former Williamson County deputies Zachary Camden and James Johnson were with a crew from the reality TV show "Live PD" when they pursued the father of two on March 28, 2019.

BREAKING: Two years and a day after Javier Ambler II’s death, a grand jury has indicted two former Williamson County deputies with manslaughter in a case that raised questions about reality TV in American policing.

— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) March 30, 2021
  • Officials have said they stopped him for failing to dim his SUV's headlights to oncoming traffic before pursuing him for over 20 minutes.
  • Austin Police Department body camera footage shows officers using Tasers on him four times as Ambler told them he had "congestive heart failure" and "can't breathe."

For the record: Camden and Johnson posted bail, which was set at $150,000 each following Monday's indictment, according to the Travis County District Attorney's Office.

What they're saying: "With these indictments, we have taken another critical step towards justice for the Ambler family and for our community," said District Attorney José Garza 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."

The accused men's attorneys said in a statement Tuesday that Ambler had several collisions during the pursuit and he resisted arrest.

  • "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.

Of note: The presence of the "Live PD" crew has raised ethical concerns about TV shows partnering with law enforcement and a proposed bill, the Javier Ambler Law, that is before the Texas legislature seeks to ban law the practice.

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