Another U.S. city has agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement in the case of a Black man wrongfully killed by police during an arrest.
CNN’s Raja Razek reported that “Williamson County, Texas, announced on Tuesday, Dec. 14 that a $5-million settlement has been approved to settle a lawsuit in the wrongful death of Javier Ambler II, a 40-year-old Black man who died during an arrest in 2019.”
In a notice posted on the county’s official social media channels, county officials said they would pay approximately $1.6 million of the settlement fee. The rest would come from the county’s insurance provider.
According to Razek, “Ambler died after a car chase that started in Williamson County and ended in the nearby city of Austin. During the arrest, Ambler can be heard on body camera footage telling sheriff’s deputies several times he couldn’t breathe.”
In an unusual twist, officers involved in the chase with Ambler were being filmed as part of an episode of the A&E reality program Live PD. However, despite their wealth of footage of the incident, the network has stated that its producers were never “asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the district attorney’s office.” An episode detailing the events that took place on that day was also never completed and never aired.
Following the announcement of the settlement, a group of attorneys representing the Ambler family, including Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci, Jeff Edwards and Bhavani Raveendran, released a statement saying, “While the Ambler family remains devastated by the loss of their son and loving father, they are proud that they fought for him and hope that this settlement and the changes that have occurred in Williamson County, Texas as a result of this case send a powerful message to law enforcement that ignoring a person’s pleas that they cannot breathe will no longer be tolerated.”
A number of indictments have already been announced in earlier trials surrounding Ambler’s death. In early 2021, a grand jury indicted former Williamson County Deputies James Johnson and Zachary Camden on charges of second-degree manslaughter. A different grand jury also indicted then-Sheriff Robert Chody and Jason Nassour, former Williamson County general counsel, of tampering with evidence during the investigation into Ambler’s death.
Ambler’s family said Chody’s involvement with the A&E show is one of the reasons they filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Williamson County.
“The complaint cited multiple examples of alleged excessive violence both by the then-sheriff and his officers,” Razek reported. “The sheriff ‘encouraged his officers to engage in dangerous, high-risk police tactics because it made for more entertaining television in service to Live PD.”