Austin/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on March 04, 2024
Trial Day Six: Jurors Presented with Autopsy Photos in Javier Ambler Case, Medical Examiner Specifies Cause of Death as Homicide in Austin CourtroomSource: WCSO

The somber atmosphere of the courtroom was palpable as jurors examined autopsy photos during the sixth day of the trial concerning the in-custody death of Javier Ambler. According to KXAN, Travis County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Keith Pinckard explained the autopsy report and described Ambler's body to the jury, unveiling signs of what he described as "severe congestive heart failure."

Former Williamson County deputies James Johnson and Zach Camden stand accused of manslaughter in a case deeply integrated into conversations about police conduct. The two are on trial for allegedly acting recklessly when subduing Ambler, who told officers of his heart condition before losing consciousness. The incident, which occurred in March 2019, began with a traffic stop for failure to dim headlights and ended tragically with a chase and eventual physical struggle after Ambler's vehicle crashed.

Dr. Pinckard, taking the witness stand, testified that the cause of Ambler's death was a combination of his heart problems and the force applied during his restraint by the officers, ruling the death a homicide. "Those actions were simply too much for his heart to take. Because those actions were the result of intentional acts by others, that puts it into the category of homicide," Pinckard said, in a statement obtained by SadieOnTV.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned Pinckard who admitted it was impossible to state which factor played a larger role in Ambler's death: his heart condition or the restraint. The medical examiner also noted no traces of heart medication in Ambler's body postmortem, according to SadieOnTV. Meanwhile, APD Officer Michael Nissen's testimony provided additional context to the night's events, offering insights into the struggle to arrest Ambler through his bodycam footage, which remains the only visual account from the perspective of the arresting officers so far presented to the jury.