One of Texas' largest counties has voted to drop its lawsuits against a local sheriff over his alleged refusal to discontinue a partnership with the hit A&E crime show “Live PD,” and the production company, Big Fish Entertainment, for utilizing the resources and property without a valid contract.
Williamson County commissioners voted Tuesday to drop the legal action after Sheriff Robert Chody said he would not sign any more contracts with “Live PD,” in accordance with a temporary injunction. But Commissioner Terry Cook told FOX Business on Thursday the vote has not yet been set in stone, as all sides have to officially agree to it.
"We wanted to make it known to the world as case law that an official other than the commissioners' court does not have the right to gift" taxpayer resources or sign contracts to do so, Cook said when reached by phone. The commissioners of the sued Sheriff Chody in both his personal and professional capacities, according to Cook.
Meanwhile, the commissioners settled another suit with Big Fish Entertainment, with both sides agreeing to the case being dropped, Cook said. The lawsuit, she said, had argued that Big Fish was filming on-site with "an invalid contract," because it was not signed off on by commissioners' court. A spokesperson for Big Fish did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request seeking comment.
Commissioners for Williamson County -- the 12th largest of Texas' 254 counties -- originally filed the complaint in May after Chody allegedly made an agreement without their permission that allowed “Live PD” crews to film sheriff’s department personnel for the show, according to the report.
A&E canceled the series in June of this year amid an investigation into the March 2019 death of a Black man who was in Williamson County custody, which was filmed by the police reality show.
The man, a 40-year-old former postal worker named Javier Ambler, was pulled over for allegedly failing to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic. Ambler's death and the lawsuits were not connected.
Ambler died after Williamson County sheriff’s deputies repeatedly used stun guns on him, despite his pleas that he was sick and couldn’t breathe. Chody has faced calls to resign since video of the traffic stop was published by the Statesman and KVUE-TV in June.
Chody, who reportedly lost his reelection bid earlier this month, was indicted in September on charges of destroying or concealing video in connection with Ambler’s death.
Chody said, "Live PD" was never contacted by prosecutors for footage during the initial investigation. According to the Austin American-Statesman, he has said he had no involvement in the decision to destroy the footage.
A&E has said the footage never aired because of a policy against showing a death. It did not keep the footage after it was informed that the initial investigation had closed. A&E said neither the network nor the show’s producers “were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the District Attorney’s office.”
Ambler’s death was ruled a homicide, according to the report made to the state attorney general’s office, which noted it could have been “justifiable.” An autopsy revealed he died of congestive heart failure and hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity “in combination with forcible restraint.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.