After A&E announced that they intended to “cease production” on the popular series Live P.D., host and co-executive producer Dan Abrams has shared his opinion about the network’s decision to remove the show from their lineup. The attorney is also speaking out about why the show chose to destroy footage of Javier Ambler’s death in 2019.
Live P.D. followed police officers on duty in different towns across the United States, and the show came under scrutiny last year when they destroyed the footage they had of Ambler’s arrest and death.
"Live PD" host Dan Abrams confirmed Javier Ambler's death was recorded on video, but it never aired on the show due to A&E standards and practices not permitting the show to feature a fatality. https://t.co/ySNMsqlIVM
— WLOS (@WLOS_13) June 12, 2020
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Ambler was tasered four times after he was stopped by officers and he told the police that he couldn’t breathe. Ambler also told the officers that he had congestive heart failure, but his cries were seemingly ignored. Ambler died in police custody, and his case has similarities to the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis.
When A&E decided to pull Live P.D. from the air, the network said in a statement that because of this critical time in our nation’s history they decided to cease production on the show. Going forward, they said they would try to determine “a clear pathway” to tell stories of both police officers and the community they serve by meeting with police departments and community and civil rights leaders.
Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Abrams says he is heartbroken over the pain Ambler’s family is experiencing, and he wishes he had the video of the arrest so he could help them.
“I understand that that can be frustrating and for some people it’s almost inexplicable the idea that you wouldn’t keep a tape,” said Abrams, who explained that destroying the footage was the show’s policy.
Abrams explained that they weren’t trying to “protect” the police by destroying the footage. Instead, he says that they routinely destroy footage after 30 days so that it can’t be used as “an arm of law enforcement to use us as a video repository or so other attorneys could come and take our video and use them in a case.”
Abrams insists that law enforcement never asked for their footage of the Ambler arrest, and he also pointed out that body cam footage from the officers still exists. He also explained that they chose not to air Ambler’s arrest because it is policy not to show fatalities. However, Abrams says they should have made an exception in Ambler’s case.
"If you think the police are doing something wrong, you should want body cams. You should want coverage. You should want people watching." – @danabrams on #LivePDCancelled #LivePDNation pic.twitter.com/NA39cygaWA
— The Dan Abrams Show (@DanAbramsSXM) June 12, 2020
“As a news person, if I’d seen that video, which I never did, I know I would have said we have to show this,” said Abrams.
As for A&E canceling the show, Dan Abrams says that in his view, the same people who are calling for police officers to wear body cams – which he fully supports – should also be supporting Live P.D. He also says it isn’t the show’s responsibility to speak out about the police brutality and racial injustice that was caught on their cameras.
“It’s not our job to start telling police officers how to do what they do. If we start telling them that, then we are now an arm of law enforcement,” Abrams says. “We are now a part of what they do. And that was not our goal. Our goal was to chronicle what law enforcement did, was to document what law enforcement did.”