Williamson County Grand Jury indicts Sheriff Robert Chody


Staff Writer

A Williamson County grand jury has indicted Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody on a felony tampering charge. The charge stems from the destruction of video evidence related to the 2019 in-custody death of 40-year-old former postal worker Javier Ambler.

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick and Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore opened a joint investigation in June after the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV revealed details surrounding Ambler’s death.

Ambler died after Deputies J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden chased him for 22 minutes. The pursuit started because Ambler did not dim his headlights and continued into Travis County before ending in a North Austin neighborhood.

Body camera video shows officers using tasers on Ambler four times while Ambler screamed multiple times that he suffered from a heart condition and could not breathe. Ambler died shortly after.

The popular A&E reality show Live PD, which was at the time in partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, had crews at the scene and filmed the incident. Investigators believe Chody and Live PD worked to prevent the release of the footage. Williamson County and Live PD’s contract allowed the show to destroy unused footage after 30 days unless a court order or federal or state law required it to be preserved.

Live PD host, Dan Abrams, said on his website that the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office initially asked for the video to be preserved but destroyed the video two months later after Chody told them their investigation was completed.

Watch for updates to this story as information becomes available.