Javier Ambler, 40, died while in police custody last March, however, it was only on Monday that body camera footage was released by the Austin Police Department, showing the father of two sons telling officers multiple times that he couldn’t breathe, that he had congestive heart failure, and pleading “Save me.”
According to USA Today, Ambler was just on his way back home from a friendly poker game, when Williamson County sheriff’s deputy J.J. Johnson decided to stop him for failing to dim the headlights of his vehicle to the oncoming traffic. A chase lasting a little over 20 minutes ensued after Ambler didn’t stop when the deputy put on his flashing lights, ending in in the city of Austin. During the chase, Ambler hit a stationary object four times, before crashing one last time near East St. Johns and Bethune avenues.
Johnson had no backup at the time and drew his gun, ordering Ambler out of the vehicle. Ambler got out and showed his hands as requested. Johnson put away his gun and instead pulled out his Taser, ordering Ambler to get down.
According to USA Today, when Ambler appeared to turn toward the car door, Johnson deployed his Taser, causing the 40-year-old to fall to his knee and then roll onto his back and stomach.
“You’ll get it again,” Johnson declared.
At that time, another Deputy, Zachary Camden, showed up, and also pushed his Taser into Ambler’s upper back “in a drive-stun motion,” the report notes.
Ambler is Tased a third time, although it is not clear which deputy used his weapon.
As the struggle continues and officers try to handcuff Ambler, he is heard pleading with them.
“I have congestive heart failure,” Ambler said. “I have congestive heart failure. I can’t breathe.”
“I am not resisting,” her later insists. “Sir, I can’t breathe. … Please. … Please.”
A deputy demands that Ambler follow instructions, to which he says he can’t, pleading “Save me.”
One of the deputies deploys their Taser a fourth and final time. Ambler falls unconscious as his pulse stops. He would never wake back up.
Ambler’s death was ruled a homicide due to congestive heart failure, hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity “in combination with forcible restraint,” according to CNN.
Johnson and the assisting deputies were found to have “acted in accordance with the guidelines set in the WCSO policy,” the Office of Professional Standards in the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department ruled.
However, there is still a lot to be uncovered about Ambler’s case. Johnson, USA Today reports, was with a film crew from the reality show “Live PD” in which he was regularly featured. A “Live PD” crew also accompanied Camden when he arrived at the scene, however, according to the report, it is not clear what steps investigators took to gain access to the footage from “Live PD.”
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore noted her concerns that the show has not produced any video.
Moore intends to take the case to a grand jury, noting that the coronavirus pandemic restricted her ability to have a grand jury hear the case in March. Right now she is hoping to get permission to convene a grand jury before August.
“It’s important, in today’s climate with the heightened response to officer-involved incidents, that the public know we are prosecuting this case, are taking it to the grand jury and we will do everything within our power to see that justice is done here,” she said, according to CNN.