WilCo Sheriff Robert Chody indicted in Javier Ambler "Live PD" case

Chody facing felony charge of tampering with evidence "with intent to impair" an investigation

Talk 1370 Newsroom
September 28, 2020 - 12:37 pm
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody
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WILLIAMSON COUNTY (Talk1370.com) -- Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody is facing a felony charge of tampering with evidence in relation to the Javier Ambler case, officials announced Monday.

The indictments were handed down Friday by a Williamson County grand jury in the 277th District Court.

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said the indictments of Chody and Jason Nassour, who serves as the general counsel for the Williamson County Attorney's office, are the result of a more than three-month investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Javier Ambler and the handling of related evidence.

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According to Dick, both Chody and Nassour were arrested and booked into the Williamson County Jail Monday, Dick said. According to jail records, Chody was released on a $10,000 bond.

Chody's attorney, Gerry Morris, called the indictment "100 percent baloney" in his own press conference Monday afternoon. "Sheriff Chody is the scapegoat," Morris said. "Chody gave no order, no direction, instituted no policy, had nothing to do with any destruction of any 'Live P.D.' video. There is not any evidence that says otherwise."

Chody has continued to maintain that the charges are politically motivated, both with Chody's own re-election bid in Williamson County, and Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore, who lost her own bid for re-election in July's Democratic primary runoff.

According to the indictment, Chody is accused of destroying video and audio recordings related to the death of Javier Ambler "with the intent to impair their availability as evidence in the investigation." Ambler died in March 2019 while in the custody of WCSO deputies, following a high-speed chase and traffic stop that saw deputies use their Tasers on Ambler multiple times.

A crew from the A&E television series "Live P.D." was filming along with WCSO deputies that night. The footage never aired on television and producers said all footage from the scene was destroyed. "Live P.D." itself was canceled earlier this year, just days after the Ambler case came to light. Body camera footage from an Austin Police officer who responded to the scene was released earlier this year, which showed some of the final moments of Ambler's life as well as WCSO deputies using their Tasers on Ambler multiple times.

The third-degree felony charge carries a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

In early June of this year, Moore, in a now-deleted post on Twitter, had accused Chody and WCSO of "stonewalling" the investigation into Ambler's death. "What should have been a routine traffic stop ended with Javier’s death," Moore said. WCSO officials disputed that claim, calling the accusation "absolutely false."

Democrat Mike Gleason, who is challenging Chody for the Sheriff's office in the November election, called the indictment a "first step towards allowing our community to heal." Gleason retired from the Sheriff's office after serving 24 years.

Under Texas law, an indicted elected official such as a county sheriff is allowed to continue to serve, but can face removal from office if they are convicted.

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