Updated at 12:05 a.m. ET Thursday
Cable network A&E announced Wednesday that it has canceled production of its popular unscripted series Live PD amid ongoing nationwide protests following the death of a black man, George Floyd, while in police custody last month in Minneapolis, Minn.
The cancellation also comes after an Austin, Texas, newspaper and television station reported fresh details of the case of Javier Ambler, a black man who died while being arrested by law enforcement in 2019. A camera crew with Live PD was there and recorded footage of the incident.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD,” A&E, which produced the program, said in a statement.
“Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”
Shocked & beyond disappointed about this. To the loyal #LivePDNation please know I, we, did everything we could to fight for you, and for our continuing effort at transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on. . More to come. . .https://t.co/WWh7fDrig2
— Dan Abrams (@danabrams) June 11, 2020
On Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman reported the video of Ambler recorded by the Live PD camera crew had been destroyed. The newspaper was in touch with representatives of the show and reported the footage “can no longer be turned over to Austin investigators.”
The revelation about the destruction of the video came after the Statesman and Austin ABC affiliate KVUE on Monday reported a fuller picture of the events that led to the March 2019 death of Ambler.
The news organizations also obtained body camera footage from an Austin Police Department officer showing Ambler’s final moments.
These events come to light as the United States is confronting decades of systemic racism and chronic mistreatment of minority communities by police. The death of Floyd, who was killed last month by a white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, has sparked protests in the U.S. and internationally.
Aside from their deaths being captured on video, there are other similarities in the way both men died.
The bodycam footage shows that, like Floyd, Ambler pleaded for mercy and told Williamson County Sheriff’s deputies he couldn’t breathe. Ambler was shot repeatedly with a stun gun as law enforcement worked to restrain him. Ambler also told them he suffered from congestive heart failure.
“He cried, ‘Save me,’ before deputies deployed a final shock,” the Statesmen reported.
The newspaper reported that Ambler, who was 40 at the time of his death, was pulled over by Williamson County Sheriff’s deputies after he failed to dim his SUV’s headlights to oncoming traffic.
Deputies chased Ambler for 20 minutes, the newspaper reported, and Ambler eventually crashed his vehicle in North Austin.
KVUE reported the Sheriff’s Office attempted to “shield information from release since receiving its first request in February.” It also said Ambler’s death was ruled a homicide.
Elected officials in Williamson County, including three of four members of the County Commissioners Court and State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, are now calling on Sheriff Robert Chody to resign, NPR member station KUT in Austin reported.
“Your department killed #JavierAmbler, filmed it for a reality TV show, then covered it up for 15 months,” Talarico tweeted Wednesday. “I’m not calling for your resignation because I’m a progressive. I’m calling for your resignation because I’m a human being.”
Your department killed #JavierAmbler, filmed it for a reality TV show, then covered it up for 15 months.
I’m not calling for your resignation because I’m a progressive.
I’m calling for your resignation because I’m a human being. https://t.co/GHqJ7reK54
— James Talarico (@jamestalarico) June 10, 2020
NPR’s Eric Deggans contributed to this report.