Following the death of Javier Ambler, as reported June 8 by KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman, Williamson County Commissioners Court called for the resignation of Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody during the court's June 9 meeting.
According to reports, the sheriffs engaged in a 22-minute police chase after Ambler failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic and refused to stop. The chase ended after Ambler crashed his vehicle in North Austin on March 28, 2019.
Then, 40-year-old Ambler was tased at least three times even after he told officers he had a heart condition. Ambler’s death was ruled a homicide, which officials said includes “justifiable homicide." Medical examiners listed his cause of death as congestive heart failure and hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity, KVUE reported.
After claiming that the meeting was the first they had heard of the incident, Commissioners Cynthia Long and Terry Cook called for the resignation of Chody.
“I am shocked and disgusted by what I've seen in the last weeks regarding use-of-force issues across the nation," Long said. "Now, I'm looking at one for the first time in my own community, my own county, as the reporting on the custody of Javier Ambler has unfolded over the last 24 hours. I'm outraged over the circumstances of [Ambler's] death [and] shocked at Sheriff Chody’s failure to cooperate with the investigation.”
Long then called for Chody to resign immediately.
“[Chody’s] actions and failure of leadership demonstrates he lacks the moral authority to be a cop, and much, much less Williamson County's top cop,” Long said. “This tragedy occurred on Robert Chody’s watch. The deputies involved should be fired immediately, and all involved must cooperate fully with the investigation.”
Cook also called for Chody’s immediate resignation and said that the results of Chody's 3 1/2 years at the helm are unacceptable.
“I have no confidence that he has the temperament, operational intelligence, administrative ability nor the people skills to handle the job. In short, I call for his resignation before the Williamson County Sheriff's Office falls into complete dysfunction and [before Chody takes] many of the good employees of the sheriff's department down with him,” Cook said.
Commissioners voted in August to end the sheriff's office's contract with Big Fish Entertainment and “Live PD." Since then, the court has filed a lawsuit against Chody, who has continued to promote and film the show despite his not being legally permitted to do so.
“This lawsuit is about holding a sheriff accountable for entering into a contract when he didn't have the authority to contract,” Williamson County Attorney Howry Breen said at the time. “His job is sheriff, not TV producer, [nor is it] handling the business of the county—that's the business of the Commissioners Court.”
Commissioners Valerie Covey and Russ Boles did not call for the direct resignation of Chody but did condemn him.
Covey said she would only like to add the court has continually tried to distance the court and county from “Live PD” through ending the contract and taking legal action.
Chody and “Live PD” have been under fire many times before from Boles, particularly in late April when he said zero cases involving or recorded by the show have been able to be prosecuted due to Chody refusing to provide the footage as evidence.
“We know how Sheriff Chody is handling this. He doesn't cooperate,” Boles said.
Chody replied to calls for his resignation on Twitter saying he plans to continue to serve as sheriff stating that Long requested he resign before getting all the facts.
"The facts are that our department remains willing to participate in the Travis County [District Attorney]'s investigation, but we have not been asked to do so," he said. "We participated in the [Austin Police Department] investigation, the results of which are available to the Travis County D.A."
As for addressing Cook's comments, Chody said in the same Tweet he was not surprised to see a "left-leaning member of the court" call for his resignation.
"Across our country Democrats are turning against law enforcement and attempting to remove its funding and leadership," he said. "[Democrats'] agenda recognizes no distinction between incidents and presumes guilt before due process."
No commissioner during the meeting said they were in favor of defunding law enforcement.
County Judge Bill Gravell did not comment and has also recused himself from all 2020 “Live PD” court discussions.