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Two Former Williamson County Deputies Indicted In Javier Ambler Case

Ambler Mural 10 10 20.jpg
Gabriel C. Pérez
A mural of Javier Ambler created by Williamson County portrait artist Devon Clarkson. Ambler died while being detained by Williamson County sheriff's deputies in March 2019.

Two former Williamson County sheriff's deputies have been indicted by a Travis County grand jury. The deputies, James Johnson and Zachary Camden, were charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Javier Ambler.

Ambler, a 40-year-old Black man, died in deputies' custody in March 2019. He was chased by deputies for 22 minutes after a traffic violation. Deputies caught him and tasered him as he said he couldn't breathe. Ambler died shortly after.

The incident was filmed for the reality television show "Live PD," which had a contract with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office at the time.

The bail for each man is set at $150,000. The court also set a prohibition on employment with law enforcement agencies or security companies for the two men.

“With these indictments, we have taken another critical step towards justice for the Ambler family and for our community,” Travis County District Attorney José Garza said in a press release. “While we can never take away the pain of the Ambler family, the grand jury has sent a clear message that no one is above the law."

Johnson and Camden's attorneys released a statement Tuesday denying the deputies' responsibility in Ambler's death.

"We are requesting a trial as soon [as] possible where we can ensure politics, campaign promises, and sensationalized media portrayals will not distort the truth of what occurred," the attorneys, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, wrote.

The grand jury also heard evidence related to the involvement of Michael Nissen, an officer with the Austin Police Department, in the incident but found that there was not sufficient evidence to indict him.

Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody was indicted by a Williamson County grand jury in September last year. His charges were for evidence tampering in Ambler's case. Jason Nassour, former general counsel with the county attorney's office, received the same charge.

Allyson Ortegon is a former Williamson County reporter for KUT.
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