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Austin, TX — Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old postal worker, was on his way home from a friendly poker game when he allegedly made the mistake of failing to turn off his brights when passing another vehicle. This is something everyone who is reading this article has likely done at some point in their life. However, because Ambler drove past a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy, an hour later, he’d be dead.
Ambler’s last moments alive were captured on police body camera footage as well as footage from the crew from A&E’s reality show “Live PD.” He never resisted, posed a threat to cops, or attempted to attack them, yet he was thrown to the ground, repeatedly tasered, and the air squeezed from his body until he fell unconscious and died.
The incident began as Deputy J.J. Johnson, who is regularly featured on “Live PD,” passed Ambler and allegedly saw him fail to dim his brights. So, the deputy targeted Ambler for extortion and subsequent murder.
For unknown reasons — likely due to the fact that he was scared of what the police may do, or did not want to be extorted — Ambler did not stop. He led police on a chase for over 20 minutes. The cops stayed behind him because it is in their job description to extort, kidnap, and in this instance, kill people over failing to turn down your brights when passing another vehicle.
The chase came to an end when Ambler crashed his vehicle.
As the Statesman reports:
Johnson, who had no backup at the time, drew his gun and ordered Ambler to get out of his car, raise his hands and get on the ground. Ambler, a 400-pound former football player, got out and showed his hands. Johnson, who is black and about half Ambler’s size, holstered his gun and pulled out his Taser.
“Get down!” Johnson repeated several times.
When Ambler appeared to turn toward his car door, Johnson used his Taser, according to an internal investigative report the Statesman obtained under the Texas Public Information Act. Ambler fell on one knee, rolled onto his back and stomach and acted as though he was trying to stand.
Moments later, multiple officers are pushing down on the man’s body as he begs them to stop, telling them he had congestive heart failure.
“I have congestive heart failure,” Ambler says. “I have congestive heart failure. I can’t breathe.”
Despite the man posing no threat whatsoever, cops continue to yell stop resisting as Ambler repeats, “I can’t breathe,” each time getting softer as the breath leaves his lungs.
“I am not resisting,” Ambler cries. “Sir, I can’t breathe. … Please. … Please.”
Deputies, clearly ignorant to the fact that Ambler is unable to put his hands behind his back because of his size and health condition, keep yelling at him to do so, while delivering more taser strikes to 400 lb former football player.
“Save me,” Ambler cries.
“Do what we’re asking you to do!” a deputy yells.
“I can’t,” Ambler says, These would be his last words, just before an officer tasers him for the fourth time.
After the taser, Ambler goes completely unconscious. In spite of no longer moving, the officers still yell at him to “get your hands behind your back and stop resisting.”
After cuffing the unconscious man, they realize he stopped breathing, was unconscious, and had no pulse. Moments later, he’d be pronounced dead.
As the Statesman reports, a death-in-custody report filed with the Texas attorney general’s office — a procedure required anytime a person dies in police custody — said Ambler did not attempt to, nor did he assault deputies; he did not verbally threaten others nor attempt to get control of any officers’ weapons.
Basically, the entire application and escalation of force was unnecessary.
We will never know why Ambler didn’t stop that night, but he had committed no other crime. The most serious charge he would’ve faced would’ve been failing to stop for police. And he died for it.
This man was pursued, pulled out of his car, thrown to the ground, repeatedly shocked, and the air squeezed from his lungs until he died, because he allegedly failed to dim his headlights.
“It is of very serious concern to any of us who are in law enforcement that the decision to engage in that chase was driven by more of a need to provide entertainment than to keep Williamson County citizens safe,” said Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.
Indeed. It appears that Johnson initiated a dangerous and deadly chase over something as petty as flashing one’s brights, all so he could make the producers happy at LIVE PD, who consistently put him on the air.
Investigators with the Williamson County sheriff’s department of internal affairs determined in a report that the deputies did not violate the agency’s pursuit or use-of-force policies, according to the Statesman. This was in spite of the fact that Ambler’s death was ruled a homicide.
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