A black man stopped by Texas cops being filmed by a reality TV show died after being repeatedly tased as he begged, “I breathe” – with the final bolt coming after he cried, “Save me,” police footage shows.
“I have congested heart failure!” Javier Ambler, 40, repeatedly sobbed as officers ordered him to turn face down on the ground after he was chased for refusing to dim his headlights, the newly released footage shows.
Gasping, the former postal worker then begged several times, “I breathe!” According to footage of the fatal arrest in Austin last March that only emerged this week.
“Not resisting … Sir, I breathe!” Please. Please! ” He sobbed, as the arrest was filmed by a crew from A&E’s “Live PD,” which is accused of refusing to release the footage to investigators.
“Save me,” Ambler begged, just before a taser was deployed for the final time.
The death has been ruled a homicide – but no disciplinary action or charges have been filed, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
One of the officers was heard admitting he was “pretty sure I just broke his finger” as they cuffed him – with footage showing the officers trying to administer CPR as they failed to find a pulse.
Deputies performed CPR for four minutes, and medics worked another 50 minutes before Ambler was pronounced dead at an Austin hospital, the paper says. A death-in-custody report said he had never tried to attack any of the deputies or make any threats, the American-Statesman said.
Ambler’s parents – a retired Army veteran and a hospital clerk – said that until last week they had only been told their son had died in police custody. “Live PD” never aired the footage.
Police footage and documents only emerged after media pressure from both the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, they say.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told both media outlets that she plans to plan to present the case to a grand jury.
She accused both Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and “Live PD” producers of repeated stonewalling efforts to obtain evidence or interviews, the reports said.
The DA was also concerned that the TV crew may have influenced the officers’ tactics. The officer who chased Ambler, Deputy J.J. Johnson – who is black – had a “Live PD” crew with him, as did his first-response backup, Deputy Zachary Camden, who was white.
“It is of grave concern to any of us who are in law enforcement that the decision to engage in that chase is driven by more of a need to provide entertainment than to keep Williamson County citizens safe,” Moore told the outlets.
Ambler’s death was ruled a homicide, but there is no indication that the deputies faced any action or were forced to take time off, the reports said.
An autopsy showed he died of congestive heart failure and cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity “in combination with forcible restraint,” the two outlets said.
Ambler’s mother, Maritza Ambler, told KVUE-TV that she warned him to be wary when dealing with law enforcement. “I would mention it to him, just to remind him, he is a minority,” she said. “You have that against you, your color.”
His father, Javier Ambler Sr., told the station he needed help for depression because of the death. “Dads should not have to bury their sons,” he said.