A&E Network canceled its police reality series “Live PD” after weeks of protests inspired by the death of George Floyd and a report that a crew from the show filmed the death of another black man in police custody.
Dan Abrams, the former host of A&E Network’s hit show “Live PD,” said he was "disappointed" by the network's decision to cancel the show, which has also prompted fans to express outrage on social media over the decision.
The cable network announced the cancellation Wednesday, a day after the similar show “Cops," on the air for 33 seasons, was dropped by the Paramount Network.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD," A&E said in a statement. “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.”
Abrams said he was also surprised by A&E's decision during an interview on FOX News' Bill Hemmer Reports Thursday. As demonstrators across the country have called for changes in policing tactics following the deaths of black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Abrams said the show provided transparency into how police operate. He thought "Live PD" could be support change.
"We need body cams on police officers," he said. "And I thought we needed things like 'LivePD.'"
Abrams said A&E faced "enormous pressure," but he had been "assured it was going to survive" as it offered a mostly unfiltered look at the uncertainties faced by law enforcement.
"They just don't know what's going to be around the next corner," he said. "They don't know what the next call will be. They don't know who's in the car they're pulling over."
The cancellation also comes a day after reports from the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV that 40-year-old Javier Ambler, who was black, died in Texas last year after sheriff's deputies repeatedly used stun guns on him, despite his cries for help and pleas that he was sick and couldn't breathe. Abrams later called the Statesman’s reporting “inaccurate and misleading.”
Prosecutors who are investigating Ambler's death said the presence of the “Live PD” crew made the arrest, which was captured on police body-camera video obtained by the news outlets, particularly troubling.
A&E said in a previous statement that its video never aired because of a policy against showing a death, and it did not keep the footage after it was informed 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.”
Abrams said it had been a show policy to destroy tapes after a certain amount of time had passed in order to avoid being caught in legal disputes. He expressed regret over the policy, saying it may have been part of what led to the show's cancellation.
"I wish we had saved that tape," he said. "I wish the policy had not been so strict."
Abrams hosted the show along with popular analysts Tom Morris Jr. and Tulsa, Oklahoma cop Sean “Sticks” Larkin. Neither of the trio nor their reps responded to FOX Business’ request seeking comment as of the time of publication.
While Abrams, a longtime journalist, has continually shared his input with his more than 308,900 Twitter followers.
On Thursday, he tweeted that he had “been preparing to answer questions about the #LivePD footage of the death of Javier Ambler when the show was canceled.” Instead, he provided some answers in an article he authored and published on his website, LawandCrime.com.
During its run, the show recovered dozens of missing children after more than 100 were featured on the show, according to an official from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Late Wednesday, social media users announced a Change.org petition to bring the show back, while the name of the show and related hashtags were also trending.
Another user wrote: "I've been watching @OfficialLivePD since the very first episode aired and became a huge fan. I just can't believe it. At times like this we could benefit from a well-documented show on law enforcement. I'm deeply saddened by this cancellation."
An earlier version of this story was updated to include comments from Dan Abrams.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.