Texas deputies rewarded with steakhouse gift cards for using force
Williamson County sheriffs, who tased Javier Ambler, were featured on the now-canceled 'Live PD' reality show.
Deputies at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office allege that their leadership regularly rewarded them with steakhouse gift cards when they used force on the job.
According to reports, deputies J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden were among those who received the cards. The two officers were involved in the March 2019 death of Javier Ambler II, who was tased four times after a traffic stop and later died.
After a brief police chase, the Black father of two pleaded for mercy as he told officers that he had congestive heart failure and couldn’t breathe. His death was recorded for the reality TV show Live PD, but the episode never aired.
In a recorded interview with Texas Rangers, obtained by the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, former deputy Christopher Pisa said that Commander Steve Deaton called deputies who used force “WilCo bada**.”
Pisa did not specifically link the gift cards to the Ambler case.
The allegations came out of an investigation into the department’s aggressive tactics by the Texas Rangers and the county’s district attorney’s office. Critics of Sheriff Robert Chody say he has chosen “cable show stardom over public safety.”
In a statement, Chody said, “Literally, the only use of cards I recall specifically was for a deputy who was able to recover some excellent fingerprints that ended up helping an investigation, resulting in a warrant for that suspect and for a capture of a burglary suspect.”
According to the Statesman, the county has hired multiple deputies with troubled histories, engaged in high-speed vehicle pursuits for minor traffic violations and used aggressive tactics in several incidents that are under investigation.
The department’s participation in Live PD, which was canceled in June, prompted the probe.
The show was canceled in response to national protests against police brutality in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd.
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