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Former Williamson County, Texas, deputies James Johnson (L) and Zachary Camden. Photo: Travis County Jail

A Texas grand jury has indicted two former sheriff's deputies from Williamson County, Texas, on second-degree manslaughter charges over the death in custody of Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old Black man.

The big picture: Former Williamson County deputies Zachary Camden and James Johnson were with a crew from the since-canceled A&E reality TV show "Live PD" when they pursued the father of two on March 28, 2019.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Officials have said they stopped him for failing to dim his SUV's headlights to oncoming traffic before pursuing him for over 20 minutes.
  • Austin Police Department body camera footage shows officers using Tasers on him several times as Ambler told them he had "congestive heart failure" and "can't breathe."

For the record: Camden and Johnson posted bail, which was set at $150,000 each following Monday's indictment, according to the Travis County District Attorney's Office.

  • Two other men have been arrested in connection with the incident — Robert Chody who faces an evidence tampering charge over the alleged destruction of recordings, and Jason Nassour, a Williamson County assistant attorney who's also been charged with evidence tampering, the New York Times notes.

What they're saying: "With these indictments, we have taken another critical step towards justice for the Ambler family and for our community," said District Attorney José Garza in a statement.

  • "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."

The accused men's attorneys said in a statement Tuesday that Ambler had several collisions during the pursuit and he resisted arrest. They called the indictments a "political talking point."

  • They deny Ambler was stopped for failing to dim his headlights and say instead that he was pulled over for "felony offense of evading arrest in a vehicle."
  • "Mr. Ambler's physical exertion in resisting the three officers it took to get him into handcuffs no doubt contributed to his medical emergency, but Mr. Johnson and Mr. Camden are neither morally nor legally responsible for his death," the statement said.

Of note: The presence of the TV crew has raised ethical concerns about television shows partnering with law enforcement and a proposed bill, the Javier Ambler Law, which is before the Texas legislature, seeks to ban law the practice.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Horrified": AP, Al Jazeera condemn Israel's bombing of their offices in Gaza

A ball of fire erupts from the Jalaa Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera on Saturday condemned the Israeli airstrike that destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza that housed their and other media offices.

What they're saying: The White House, meanwhile, said it had "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.