Black man heard saying 'I can't breathe' multiple times during fatal arrest in Texas, body camera video shows

Body camera footage of Javier Ambler's fatal 2019 arrest in Austin, Texas, in which he says "I can't breathe" multiple times, is under investigation. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports.

Posted: Jun 9, 2020 12:56 PM


Body camera footage of a black man's arrest in Austin, Texas, where he says "I can't breathe" multiple times is under investigation.

In body camera video released Monday by the Austin Police Department, Williamson County Sheriff's Office deputies were shown pursuing Javier Ambler, 40, just after 1 a.m. on March 28, 2019.

Ambler failed to dim his car's headlights as he drove past a deputy, according to a sheriff's department incident report. Ambler then tried to flee, leading officers on a 22-minute pursuit that ended up in the city of Austin, the report says.

Ambler collided with three fixed objects on and off the roadway, according to the office of the Texas Attorney General custodial death report.

The 14-minute body camera footage captured the moment the deputies stopped their vehicles, and when they started walking toward Ambler.

Ambler exited his car with his hands up, according to the documents obtained by CNN. He was unarmed and not intoxicated. Officers tried to handcuff Ambler, but said he resisted and pushed back on the officers as he refused to follow the verbal commands, according to Williamson County Sheriff's Office case report.

Ambler is seen in distress. As they handcuff him, he is heard saying "I have congestive heart failure."

Multiple times on the video, Ambler is also heard saying he can't breathe and that he's not resisting. Several minutes into the arrest, officers realize Ambler is unresponsive. Ambler is no longer heard on-camera.

Shortly after, officers took off Ambler's handcuffs and can be heard administering CPR compressions until medical units arrived on the scene.

'This case has been so unusual'

Ambler's manner of death was ruled a homicide, according to the death report from the Texas Attorney General. Congestive heart failure, hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity "in combination with forcible restraint" were listed as Ambler's cause of death.

The Office of Professional Standards in the Williamson County Sheriff's Department said, "After reviewing the video evidence, OPS concludes the primary deputy 'JJ' Johnson and assisting deputies acted in accordance with the guidelines set in the WCSO policy and used objective reasonableness in the level of force used. OPS also recommends the chain of command review the use of force and complete RMS Response to Resistance module, in accordance to WSCO policy."

The Travis County District Attorney is leading an investigation into the deadly arrest. District Attorney Margaret Moore told CNN Monday the body camera footage was coming from an Austin police officer who responded to the scene when the chase entered the city. No Austin officers are under investigation.

"We have determined that we need to take it to a grand jury," Moore said, adding that officials with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office have not been cooperative. "This case has been so unusual. It is not typical for us to encounter obstacles to getting evidence especially from another law enforcement agency."

The Covid-19 pandemic prohibited setting a grand jury to hear the case in March, Moore said. Her office is trying to get the case heard in July, but it could possibly be delayed until August.

"It's important, in today's climate with the heightened response to officer-involved incidents, that the public know we are prosecuting this case, are taking it to the grand jury and we will do everything within our power to see that justice is done here," she said.

CNN has reached out to the Williamson County Sheriff Office and Texas Attorney General's Office.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 81°
Columbus
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 80°
Starkville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 73°
Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather