State Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) is planning to try again to close the “dead suspect loophole” that allows Texas police agencies to keep secret all records, video and audio associated with in-custody deaths.
“If our only response to addressing systemic racism is a focus on #CJReform, we are missing the point. It’s a piece of the puzzle. But the fact that we all know we need to start there says everything we need to know about the justice and policing status quo. #txlege #PoliceReform,” Moody tweeted Friday.
Moody’s announcement follows Williamson County’s delayed release of police body camera footage of the death of Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old black man who died on March 28, 2019 while in the custody of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.
The video footage, which just became public, shows Ambler being tased and handcuffed. He can be heard telling police he has a heart condition and saying “I can’t breathe.”
The death was also filmed by a reality television show. “Live PD” wasn’t on air at the time, but the producers had been gathering footage.
Moody tried to close the dead suspect loophole during the last legislative session, but that portion of Senate Bill 944 drew opposition from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, and Moody wound up cutting that part out to keep the bill moving forward.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore is continuing to investigate Ambler’s death. After delays due to the pandemic, the case is expected to be presented to a grand jury this summer.
“What should have been a routine traffic stop, ended with Javier’s death,” Moore tweeted.
Ambler’s medical cause of death was congestive heart failure in combination with forcible restraint.