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Prosecutors With Travis, Williamson Counties Will Work Together On Javier Ambler Cases

A mural of Javier Ambler was created by Williamson County portrait artist Devon Clarkson.
Gabriel C. Pérez
A mural of Javier Ambler was created by Williamson County portrait artist Devon Clarkson. Ambler died while being detained by Williamson County Sheriff's deputies in March of 2019.

The district attorney's offices at Travis and Williamson counties will jointly prosecute two open cases surrounding the death of Javier Ambler II.

Williamson County prosecutors were sworn in as special prosecutors by Travis County District Attorney José Garza on Wednesday.

Ambler was a 40-year-old Black man who died in Williamson County sheriff's deputies' custody in March 2019. The incident was captured by "Live PD," a reality television show that had a contract with the sheriff's office.

Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and former general counsel for the Williamson County Attorney’s Office Jason Nassour were charged by grand juries in both Travis and Williamson counties for tampering with evidence relating to Ambler's case.

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said the indictment in Williamson County has been dismissed so the prosecution could focus efforts in Travis County. He said that decision made "perfect sense" because the charges in both counties are related and interconnected.

"There's a lot of overlap between the two cases: the witnesses, the cases, the charges, the evidence," Dick said. "And it's all searching for the same evidence ... we're looking for 'Live PD' footage and the contact information for 'Live PD' witnesses."

The cases are currently pending. Dick expects that joining the prosecution teams together will move the cases more quickly to trial.

Attorneys for the Ambler family released a statement in response to the joint prosecution.

"The Ambler family is encouraged by the now combined prosecution of both Williamson and Travis counties for the senseless and very public death of Javier Ambler by deputies as the reality TV cameras rolled," the statement said. "Today's announcement that charges will be streamlined for both counties jointly to prosecute is one we see as a more efficient — and ideally expeditious — path to justice."

Allyson Ortegon is a former Williamson County reporter for KUT.
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