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Crime News Black Lives Matter

‘Live PD’ Canceled Amid Criticism For Filming Death Of Black Man In Custody

Javier Ambler died during an arrest that was caught on camera by the crew of “Live PD” — however, that footage has since been destroyed.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
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The reality TV show “Live PD” has been canceled amid ongoing protests surrounding police brutality and following a report that crew members for the show filmed a black man's death during an arrest.

The show was first placed on hiatus last month, but A&E, the network that aired the show, and MGM production company Big Fish Entertainment have since made the decision to cancel the series entirely, Deadline reported.

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD,” reads a statement from the network obtained by Deadline. “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.”

The show’s cancellation comes after it was renewed last month and was slated to film another 160 episodes, according to the outlet.

“Live PD” host Dan Abrams addressed the show’s cancellation in a tweet on Wednesday, writing, “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.”

Just a day before, Abrams had reassured fans that the show would be returning, writing in one tweet, “To all of you asking whether #LivePD coming back ... The answer is yes. All of us associated with the show are as committed to it as ever. We are still discussing some specifics but I want to assure the #LivePDNation that we are not abandoning you.”

“Live PD” ran for four seasons and followed various law enforcement officers on the job, affording viewers an “unfettered and unfiltered” look at police work, according to the show’s page on the A&E website. However, amid ongoing protests against police brutality, the show has faced some criticism regarding reports that a camera crew was present and filming during the arrest and subsequent death of Javier Ambler.

Ambler, a 40-year-old Texas resident, was pulled over in March 2019 for failing to dim his headlights; a chase ensued and Ambler was tased four times, PEOPLE reported. He died during the altercation and his death has been ruled a homicide, according to the outlet.

Ambler reportedly told officers during the arrest, “I can't breathe,” and informed officers that he had congestive heart failure. A death report states that the father of two died from “congestive heart failure and hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity, in combination with forcible restraint,” according to PEOPLE.

Footage of the arrest was captured by body cams worn by officers with the Austin Police Department, who arrived after deputies with the Williamson County Sheriff's had already begun the arrest, NBC News reported. Ambler's death remains under investigation, with the local district attorney’s office accusing the sheriff’s office of blocking their investigative efforts and the sheriff’s office denying the claim.

"Live PD" was on the scene filming when the pursuit began. However, that footage was later destroyed in accordance with the show’s policy to only keep unused footage “for a few weeks” unless legally requested to do otherwise, Abrams told the Law & Crime blog this week.

The footage did not air, but Abrams said he wished the show would have aired “everything up to Javier Ambler’s final moments,” he told the outlet.

“It would have been very difficult to watch but in an ongoing effort to show all sides of policing I wish this had been aired just as we had shown many other controversial moments that led to criticism of, and appreciation for, police,” he said.

A&E is not alone in its decision to pull the plug on shows like “Live PD.” Paramount Network announced earlier this week that the long-running series “Cops” had been canceled ahead of the scheduled premiere of its 33rd season.