Police video and documents released more than a year after the death of a black man in Texas show that sheriff's deputies used a stun gun on him four times despite his multiple cries of "I can't breathe" following a chase after for failing to dim his headlights.
Javier Ambler gasped for air, told police he had congestive heart failure and begged, "Save me" before he was stunned a fourth time and lost consciousness, according to a report published Monday by the Austin American-Statesmanand KVUE-TV.
The revelations about Ambler's 2019 death raise questions about Williamson County deputies' practice of pursuing drivers for minor crimes. A local prosecutor involved in the investigation of Ambler's death also says the circumstances are troubling because it was being filmed for A&E Network's real-time police show Live PD.
KVUE reports the sheriff's office in February refused to release any information about the case, but turned over documents relating to an internal investigation late last month when the Texas Attorney General ruled the office had no legal standing to withhold them.
The details about Ambler, a 40-year-old father of two boys, come as worldwide protests continue following the police death of George Floyd. Like Ambler, Floyd was seen on disturbing video begging for air, and "I can't breathe" has become a rallying cry for protesters calling for an end to police brutality against black men and women.
Ambler died March 28, 2019, after he was driving home following a poker game with friends, according to the report. Williamson County Deputy J.J. Johnson, who is regularly featured on Live PD, flipped on his flashing lights to pull Ambler over after noticing that he kept on his bright headlights facing oncoming traffic. After Ambler refused to stop, Johnson and the film crew riding along with him began chasing him, leading to a 22-minute pursuit that ended when he crashed his vehicle near downtown Austin.
Johnson drew his gun and demanded Ambler to exit his car. Ambler, who weighed 400 pounds, got out and showed his hands. Johnson, who is black and about half Ambler's size, holstered his gun, pulled out his Taser and told him to get down several times.
It appeared Ambler turned toward his vehicle, and Johnson subsequently used his Taser, according to an internal investigative report obtained by KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman. Ambler dropped to one knee, rolled onto his back and stomach and appeared as though he was trying to stand.