A police department near Austin, Texas, has settled a wrongful death lawsuit after a Black man named Javier Ambler II died in custody in 2019 as officers filmed for Live PD, a now-cancelled reality television show.
The commissioners court in Williamson County, located just north of Austin, voted Tuesday to approve a $5 million settlement in Ambler’s wrongful death lawsuit.
Williamson County will pay $1.6 million of the settlement, while the rest will be covered by the county’s insurance.
Ambler’s family filed the lawsuit in October, alleging that then Sheriff Robert Chody encouraged his officers to engage in “dangerous, high-risk police tactics” because it made for “more entertaining television.”
Police pursued Ambler in a car chase in March 2019 after he didn’t dim his headlights in the direction of oncoming traffic, according to an investigation by the local station KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman. J.J. Johnson, an officer regularly featured on Live PD, followed Ambler for 22 minutes before Ambler crashed his car just north of downtown Austin. Johnson and another deputy, Zachary Camden, told Ambler to lay on his stomach and tasered him four times in total, as Ambler seemed to resist. Ambler, according to the report, told them he couldn’t breathe and had congestive heart failure before they tasered him a final time. Moments after handcuffing Ambler, they realized he was unresponsive and that his pulse had stopped. Ambler was pronounced dead shortly after at a local hospital.