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Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody surrenders on new evidence tampering charge in Javier Ambler case

KVUE and the Statesman had begun looking into the case in February 2020, but the Williamson County Sheriff's Office declined to release any information.

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody has surrendered on a new evidence tampering charge over “Live PD” footage in the death of Javier Ambler II, according to KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski.

This third-degree felony evidence tampering charge is in Travis County, where the in-custody death of Ambler took place, in addition to a similar charge in neighboring Williamson County. Bond was set at $15,000.

This comes one day after Austin lawyer Jason Nassour was indicted in Travis County for similar evidence tampering charges. This means Chody and Nassour are now indicted in two counties related to the incident.

RELATED: Felony evidence tampering indictment issued in Travis County in Javier Ambler's death

On Sept. 28, Nassour and former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody were indicted on felony evidence tampering charges after video captured in relation to Ambler's death was destroyed, according to "Live PD," which was filming with deputies at the time of the incident.

At the time of Ambler's death, Chody was the sheriff in Williamson County. He was voted out of office in November 2020 and was replaced with Mike Gleason.

Nassour was serving as the general counsel for the Williamson County Attorney's Office from 2017 to August 2020 before Williamson County commissioners voted to remove Nassour's position. He remains employed, however, by the county attorney's office.

RAW VIDEO: Austin-area Black man cries 'I can’t breathe!' then dies in sheriff’s custody

Nassour also represented Sheriff Chody against the commissioners when they looked into terminating the "Live PD" contract. The court sued Sheriff Chody, claiming he "secretly and illegally" re-contracted with the show after the court terminated their agreement in August.

The newest indictments come after a Travis County grand jury this week indicted two former Williamson County sheriff's deputies: J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden.

Ambler's death received no public attention until June, when the KVUE Defenders and Austin American-Statesman obtained records in the case and body camera footage from an Austin police officer who did not participate in the pursuit but who responded to a call to help the deputies.

KVUE and the Statesman had begun looking into the case in February 2020, but the Williamson County Sheriff's Office declined to release any information. In late May, just as the nation's attention turned to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Texas Attorney General's Office told the sheriff's office that it had no legal standing to withhold the records.

Within days of details of Ambler's death becoming public, "Live PD" confirmed it had deleted its footage of Ambler's death, and Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick opened an evidence tampering investigation. 

In response to Ambler's death, Texas state Rep. James Talarico has filed a bill to ban police contracts with reality TV shows.

Attorneys for Chody and Nassour have denied the allegations.

Credit: Austin Police Department
Credit: Austin Police Department
Austin Police Department

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