Live PD captured the January 2019 arrest of Scott Lewis in Williamson County, Texas. Robert Chody, the sheriff in Williamson County, is accused of tampering with a video of a fatal 2019 traffic stop made by the crew of a police ride-along program. In a news conference after his release from jail, Chody, who is in a heated re-election race this November, characterized the indictments as a political witch hunt led by prosecutors desperate to save face. Grayson Kennedy is an American police officer (lieutenant) in Williamson County, Texas. But the Williamson County Sheriffs Department already lives in plain view on Live PD, which has turned some of the departments figures into social media stars. In fact, at times the sheriff has big send-off parties before the Live PD teams start their patrol. Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said Monday that his office had been working the case with sheriff's investigators and will present it to a grand jury. But moments before deputies moved to arrest him, supervisors called them off. Earlier this year, Deaton was reprimanded for sexual harassment, though not for his Facebook posts. If youre going to do it, locals say, dont do it in Williamson County. One criminology expert said Deatons posts had the potential to undermine public trust in law enforcement. The footage was captured by Live PD cameras on the night that Ambler, a former postal worker and the father of two, died following a 22-minute car chase by Williamson County deputies. In the shows oeuvre of humiliation-as-entertainment, it was a classic segment, and pretty much the last of Lewis that fans saw that night. But law enforcement agencies are not required to review applicants entire personnel files from their previous employers. "They just got bolder and bolder and bolder, until we got where we are today," said Sheriff Mike Gleason, who took office in January after running on a platform of restoring public confidence in county policing. ", The guys that were on 'Live PD' could do no wrong, said the former deputy. Other records show that Johnson had a blemished record for driving with an invalid license two decades earlier. In his two and a half years with the department, Luera has been at the center of at least two controversial incidents involving Live PD.. When Ramsey Mitchells mother, Sandi Price, learned of Amblers death, she wondered why the same deputies had been put back in front of TV cameras, why "Live PD" was still in the county at all. Visit us at for more info. You can email the site owner to let them know you were blocked. Join us @ Despite the show's cancellation, the suit against Chody is still pending because commissioners want to prevent the sheriffs office from contracting with another TV show without the countys permission, according to the countys lawyer. It followed police officers in the course of their patrols live, broadcasting select encounters with the nation. A woman who survived being raped on New Years Eve by two male acquaintances when she was in high school 30 years ago said she felt violated all over again when she saw the images. Among the officers with notable past records are the two who used a Taser on Javier Ambler in March 2019. Scott Lewiss experience with "Live PD" and Williamson County deputies left lasting damage, too, after the show broadcast one of the worst moments of his life in January 2019. "Live PD" not only wrought lasting damage in the lives of the people caught in the glare of its cameras, it also distorted the way criminal justice was meted out in the streets and courtrooms of Williamson County, according to police, court and other public records, along with dozens of interviews with current and former sheriffs deputies and staff, attorneys and residents. The sheriff knows this and doesnt appear to care. When an officer from a participating police department gets a call, we act as a natural extension of body-cams and dash-cams that officers are already using, and never know what will transpire.. "Live PD" had little to no impact on routine operations of patrol deputies beyond what we normally see with other enforcement activities like DWI enforcement, Gutierrez said in a statement. They did not have to go that extreme.. . Then Luera led a dramatic raid on his home that was televised live. Dressed in military-style gear, he states the suspect, Fairchilds 27-year-old son Blake, is wanted on an arrest warrant for the manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine. The sheriff failed to disclose that a man died in a police encounter in front of "Live PD" cameras. Those deputies were marked by a special call sign for emergency dispatchers, according to an internal memo seen by NBC News. With cameras trained on them, some have engaged in aggressive and questionable police tactics. Hernandez is heard on body camera video telling the woman that searching her home was necessary to ensure her safety and that she was not hiding the suspect of an investigation. 1 new cable show on Thursday nights. Behind-the-scenes production of Live PD at the studio in New York in 2016. The arrest warrant stemmed not from a new drug manufacturing case, but from a judge revoking his bond after Blake admitted to using drugs and alcohol while on pretrial supervision. Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. "He would have died had he been here, she said. But his path to the countys most powerful law enforcement office was unusual. Did Williamson County deputies chase more cars for TV fodder? Self - Lt., Williamson County TX Sheriff's Office / . He seems to have empathy but, is a take charge, get the task done person. In the back of the house, deputies hurled a second flash-bang grenade through a window, into the bedroom where Blakes 6-year-old son slept. What is our moral barometer? Big Fish Entertainments contract allowed the sheriffs office to review recorded segments, as well as the right to have a representative in the local control room to review material as it was shot. But that night, he relapsed and was arrested for driving while intoxicated. AUSTIN, Texas A Travis County grand jury has indicted two former Williamson County sheriff's deputies in the death of Javier Ambler two years after he died in a violent encounter captured. Four months later, Chody did not discipline Deaton after disturbing and graphic Facebook posts were made public in which Deaton used toy figures to depict graphic scenes of date rape and other violent acts. Chody promoted Luera to detective in March 2019. There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data. Hernandez could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. Williamson County commissioners voted to cut ties with "Live PD" in August 2019 amid concerns from prosecutors and defense attorneys. The mans lawyer told the newspaper that his client suffered serious injuries for the sake of reality TV and had to see multiple medical specialists while in custody. Hernandez is the sixthperson, including the countys former sheriff, to face criminal charges in the wake of that investigation. That meant they could do anything.. In all,10felony and misdemeanor charges have been filed in connection with crimes officials say were related to work with the Williamson County sheriffs office. While working in Bastrop County, Johnson received a two-day suspension for crashing his patrol car in September 2016. Around the same time as the reprimand of Deaton, Chody fired two other officers for text messages on their private cell phones. Blake, who was visiting the house, had appeared several times in the driveway in full view of the deputies conducting surveillance, according to the deputy. live from Consensus 2023, explains why he's never invested in any cryptocurrency. Lewis said his appearance on the show derailed his life. Aaron Skinner, one of the deputies fired, said the private text thread was a place where K9 officers discussed what was going on in the department. Instead, deputies waited till the cameras were rolling and busted down his door. IE 11 is not supported. The badge isnt just a symbol of authority over the public, said a former deputy who now works at a different agency and was granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media. Despite Sheriff Chody's support of "Live PD", the WCSO has been embroiled with controversy stemming from the show. In an interview with the Statesman, Davis said he left the department because he was troubled by Chodys hiring process. Patricia Gutierrez, a spokesperson for the sheriffs office, said in a statement that the deputys account that an opportunity to make a peaceful arrest was abandoned in order to make TV is untrue. She emailed members of the Commissioners Court on April 18 after the news about Deatons reprimand surfaced and asked that his Facebook posts be taken more seriously. The police ride-along show damaged the lives of the people caught in the glare of its cameras and distorted policing in Williamson County. Domestic violence victim advocates say they were horrified that the deputies scolded the woman. Attorneys representing Camden and Johnson said in a joint statement that we have reason to believe the Texas Rangers looked into this use of force and did not identify any potential crimes committed by Johnson and Camden.. He reminded the sheriff that videos of deputies doing police work are evidence just as the recording from a body cam or dash cam is evidence. Texas law, he added, prohibits the destruction of evidence during an ongoing investigation. Its almost like hes taking crimes against people and making a joke about it., In one post from November 2018, an elf is shown with a ransom note while a Barbie lies nearby wrapped in tape. Everybody that they stop and everybody they arrest and everybody they throw down in the street, those people arent actors, Price said. WATCH:Williamson County sheriff joins homeless fight, 'Tarzan' actor Ron Ely's wife stabbed to death by son, Energy Secretary Rick Perry tells Trump he plans on resigning, Meet the cast of 'The Sandlot' at special screening in Dripping Springs, Have a Yahoo account? According to a grievance filed by other officers, Deaton told about 20 officers during a shift briefing that it was his goal for one of them to have sex with a female producer of Live PD, which began airing shows featuring the department last November. This story contains images that may be upsetting to some viewers. Just like "COPS," the godfather of reality policing shows, the appeal of "Live PD" was police drama, from drug busts and beatings to rescues and high-speed pursuits. Community leaders tell me that it looks like the sheriff works for Live PD, not the citizens of Williamson County. Klier said he is concerned that Chodys hiring practices are another example of how the lights of Live PD have overshadowed good policing. Have you ever seen his Facebook post which was open to the public, he has a very disparaging view of women and some of his post were disturbing and offensive, her message reads. But I learned on Tuesday that as a hire by an elected official, we can do nothing.Cook added, Im horrified that he is in a leadership position., In response to an inquiry from the SPLC, Cook said in an email that, while the Commissioners Court has authority over the sheriffs budget, under Texas law the sheriff, as an elected official, controls who to hire and who to terminate under his sphere of control., At the end of the day, I dont want to ruin this guys life, Sarah told the SPLC. In June, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement finished an investigation involving the Williamson County sheriffs office. The case gained renewed attention on Sept. 28 when Chody and Jason Nassour, the former county attorney, were indicted on evidence tampering charges linked to the destruction of the "Live PD" video. I just wanted to say hello and how proud I am not only of J.J., but of all the troops that are on Live PD. . Mitchell pleaded guilty to the drug charge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Its unclear whether "Live PD" will ever come back. Only one member of the Commissioners Court responded. In an unrelated case, Deputy Christopher Pisa faces charges of assault and official oppression for his violent arrest of a Black woman in April 2019. Not as impressive as "Live PD," but a good start. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety declined to comment on the investigations. You can email the site owner to let them know you were blocked. Love the show !! With 32 live feeds coming into the studio, most segments are broadcast on a reported five- to 20-minute tape delay. The caption reads: Our elf is searching for just the right words to convince Ted he wasnt fooling around and to pay the ransom. Blake and his girlfriend were eating freshly delivered pizza when they glanced at the video feed of the security camera on the front porch. According to The Austin Chronicle, the lawsuit was quietly settled roughly a month after Chody and his wife collected $51 million in lottery winnings. I remember being held up and punched and the police saying, He wont go down, Mitchell said. Performance & security by Cloudflare. Other posts show scenes in which the Elf dolls are alluding to sexually assaulting Barbies. Williamson County said in a statement that it was aware of Lueras honorable and meritorious service and findings in the incident where he made mistakes. The statement said officials had received positive recommendations from Lueras former supervisors and others. Screen shots of Steven Deaton's Facebook posts. The federal lawsuit is the latest fallout from . It was unbelievable.. Its closer to play-acting. In April, a former commander, Steve Deaton, received a verbal reprimand for allegedly making inappropriate comments about one of the show's producers. On one side were the rock stars of "Live PD," some of whom had been hired or promoted despite troubling pasts. Abrams has told #LivePDNation that he hopes it will. One night, the dispatcher accidentally sent a "Live PD" deputy to check on a burglar alarm that had gone off. As part of Live PD promotional efforts, he was interviewed by podcasters about his life in law enforcement and was a frequent face on Chodys social media. He is also shown unresponsive and lying in a pool of blood, according totheAustin American-Statesman. Screen shots of Robert Chody's Facebook messages. Most days of the week he willingly invites their cameramen into our county cruisers. Cmdr. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. The sheriffs department noted in a statement to the Statesman that Deaton was the most highly decorated officer from APD.. Waldon, who testified before the grand jury, said the Ambler case amounted to the realization of his worst fears. Section 37.09 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a felony to impair the availability of evidence. As Blake ran to open the front door, one deputy smashed it open with a battering ram. Rather, we believe that because fairness, equal treatment, and integrity are essential to the legitimacy of policing, these posts and comments should be part of a national dialogue about police.. The former postal worker had no outstanding warrants, no weapons in his car. Experts say hiring deputies with flawed histories damages a departments community image, destroys its morale and unnecessarily burdens taxpayers who may have to pay for officers misdeeds. In the weeks since, the newspaper has probed other instances in which deputies pummeled a suspect during an arrest and unnecessarily deployed a SWAT raid on the home of another suspect. GEORGETOWN A former Williamson County sheriff's deputy once featured on the reality show "Live PD" and involved in at least three controversial force incidents has been charged with. The former Williamson County deputies, James Johnson and Zachary Camden, had been accompanied by a television crew from the reality television show "Live PD" at the time of their fatal . The next month, Luera was one of five deputies involved in the violent arrest of Ramsey Mitchell, who said he was left with permanent scars after deputies piled on top of him, Tased, kicked and punched him. But the sheriffs office wasnt preserving either video or witness lists, and prosecutors werent made aware of the shows presence when a case was filed by the sheriffs office, he said. One image, dated Nov. 28, 2017, depicts a black football player being dismembered at the knees by an elf with a chainsaw. Some of them include photographs of scenes created with Barbies and Elf on the Shelf dolls. They couldve arrested him at the courthouse. I dont think thats normal at all, Dick said. The commission found no violations but noted that it had uncovered worrisome practices. But in others, Chody, who pursued the highly-rated reality show to showcase his department, appeared to gamble on applicants who were willing to play to a TV audience. Just months into his inaugural term, Chody began tweeting at "Live PD" and Abrams, its host. Performance & security by Cloudflare. In June, The Austin American Statesman and KVUE published disturbing video of Amblers struggle with police and his final moments gasping for air, captured by the body camera of an Austin police officer who responded to the scene. Sean "Sticks" Larkin. CORRECTION (Oct. 11, 2020, 2:50 p.m. The department said the suggestion that Live PD played a role in its hiring is ridiculous. It said that employment decisions are based on a review of each individual that includes all the pluses and minuses., Revelations of questionable hiring practices come amid increasing scrutiny of the department after the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV in June revealed details of Amblers death. I get it, she said. Updated: 5:48 PM CDT October 17, 2019. This page is owned by Miller & Koehler Social Media Company LLC and operated by Live PD Universe! A picture is worth a thousand words. Deaton took painstaking measures to create Elf on a Shelf depictions of gang rape, domestic abuse, murder, kidnapping, ISIS references, drug usage and many other scenarios to demean women, she wrote. Every time a Live PD cameraman climbs into Lt. Grayson Kennedys cruiser, the sheriff is exposing county taxpayers thats you and me to millions of dollars of liability. The whole while Im discussing needing video evidence with the sheriff and his staff, they knew about it, Dick said. In the past three years, Chody has hired at least a dozen officers with checkered pasts to his force of 550. If they would have just knocked, Blake would have come to the door, Laib said. Fairchild cried when she saw the shattered glass on her grandsons bed and the black scorch marks on the carpet. As sheriff, he argued, he didnt need permission to grant cameras access to his law enforcement agency. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. I understand that. Since it first aired on A&E in 2016, "Live PD" consistently ranked as the top-rated show on basic cable, pulling in millions of viewers on Friday and Saturday nights. Last July, almost three months after Amblers death, Chody called into a live chat, promoting Johnson and the show. It remains unclear why Ambler didnt pull over. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. Hed grown increasingly dependent on alcohol to cope with anxiety, one of the many aftereffects of a traumatic brain injury he sustained in a hit-and-run-accident. When Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody needed a star to represent his department on the reality show "Live . But an in-custody death report filed with the Texas Attorney Generals office noted that Ambler didnt appear to be intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Shows like Live PD and Cops have beenoften criticizedfor targeting and exploiting people of color and the poor. Grayson Kennedy . In July, Williamson County commissioners heard allegations that some of Chody's deputies used excessive force in a traffic stop and arrest in June that was featured on "Live PD." Video from the arrest shows the man pinned to the ground, being Tasered and hit by the deputies' fists, and saying he can't breathe. Local Policing and Immigration Enforcement, Request for Legal Assistance Economic Justice. The caption reads: Sticking to etiquette our elf holds the hair of his date to the party while she pukes. Who does care is the countys insurance company. A lot of those text messages were venting against the chain of command, and about what was going on, Skinner told the SPLC. Law enforcement officers have the power to take away a citizens freedom, and even in rare instances to take away life, said University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, a national police behavior expert. He is a real professional and an asset to the police profession. Rappleyeis a reporter with the Investigative Unit at NBC News, with a focus on criminal justice, social issues and the environment. The grand jury will hear evidence related to Amblers death beginning next year, she said. Gilchrist continued to send images of Deatons posts, but Chody stopped responding. I just kept thinking, If you would put me down, Im not resisting. I remember being balled up and they were still kicking and stunning me.. On the other side were many of the countys rank-and-file, who worried that they risked unceremonious demotions or firings if they did anything that seemed even mildly critical of "Live PD" or the sheriff. There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data. But I dont know that it ever will. The creator of "Live PD," along with its host and co-executive producer, Dan Abrams, touted the show as a raw, unvarnished view into policing. By June 2019 the situation had reached a boiling point, Dick said. I actually asked, wheres the message? Live PD (TV Series 2016- ) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Chody reprimanded him after a complaint was made public that accused Deaton of challenging deputies to have sex with a Live PD producer -- a claim that Chody said was not entirely factual. In the process, the show brought Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and some of his deputies a modicum of fame among the shows devoted fan base. Live PD has likely coached the sheriff to allege conspiracies and proclaim transparency. Adding insult to taxpayers is that 100% of Lt. Kennedys arrests you see on the show cant be prosecuted by the district attorney. The County and its citizens lose when its Sheriff prioritizes TV appearance and ratings over safety and proper police work.. Before his time in Bastrop County, Camden worked in the Ingleside Police Department near Corpus Christi, where his personnel file included a finding of dishonesty with a six-day unpaid suspension over a dispute about his arrival time for work. Because the sheriff refuses to collect Live PD evidence: simple stuff like the unaired video or the name of the cameraman.