Sheriff Who Starred in Live PD Arrested

Robert Chody denies the charge that he tampered with evidence in Black man's death
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2020 3:07 AM CDT
Live PD Sheriff Charged With Concealing Fatal Arrest Footage
In this Sept. 19, 2015 file photo, Police Lives Matter organizer Robert Chody thanks a large group that turned out for a rally at the state capital in Austin.   (Kin Man Hui/The San Antonio Express-News via AP, File)

A Texas sheriff who starred in Live PD was arrested Monday and charged with evidence tampering in the death of Javier Ambler, a Black man who died in police custody last year. Police use of force against the 40-year-old was captured on footage for Live PD, but that footage was ultimately destroyed. The controversy led to A&E canceling the reality series this year (a move that cost it half its viewers). Authorities say Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody destroyed or concealed audio and video footage showing what prosecutors say was likely the clearest view of Ambler's final moments. He was killed after a 22-minute car chase that started when he failed to dim his headlights for oncoming traffic; he was restrained and tased multiple times, despite telling officers he had a heart condition and couldn't breathe.

Former Williamson County general counsel Jason Nassour was also indicted on a felony evidence tampering charge over the same incident. In what NBC News calls a "defiant" appearance after being released on bond, Chody said, per the Texas Tribune, "The Travis County District Attorney dropped the ball on the investigation, and when the video surfaced during her campaign, she had to find someone to blame for her own mistakes." But, while his lawyer says there is "not a single shred of evidence" Chody had anything to do with the destruction of the Live PD footage, the Williamson County DA says that during a months-long joint investigation alongside neighboring DA's offices and the Austin PD, 19 witnesses were brought before the grand jury. An internal investigation previously cleared the deputies involved in Ambler's death, but the Austin PD and county prosecutors continue to investigate. (Chody's office is also in the hot seat regarding gift cards for officers who used force.)

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