A&E Cancels Live PD, One of the Highest Rated Shows on Cable TV

Just one day after Paramount Network cancelled Cops, A&E has turned off the sirens of another hit police show: Live PD.

As Deadline reports, the decision to cut the feed on Live PD was made jointly by A&E and MGM-owned production company Big Fish Entertainment. In a statement, the network said,

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD. 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.”

Live PD aired for three hours on Friday and Saturday nights, bringing live feeds from police patrols to viewers with commentary from host Dan Abrams (Chief Legal Affairs anchor for ABC News), crime reporter Tom Morris Jr., and Tulsa PD Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin. It was the No. 1 watched show in its slot in 2019, and became one of the most watched programs on all of cable TV throughout the pandemic. Last month, A&E renewed the series for an additional 160 episodes. Just yesterday, Abrams said he expected the show to return to the air, promising fans, “we are not abandoning you.”

However, new episodes were pulled from A&E’s schedule in the wake of protest surrounding the murder of George Floyd, as well as a scandal regarding footage of another police killing of a black man, Javier Ambler. Earlier in June, it was revealed Live PD had destroyed footage it had captured of Ambler’s death while filming a segment that was never aired.

Ambler led Austin, Texas police on a 20-minute chase after they attempted to stop him for a traffic violation on March 28th, 2019. He ended up crashing his vehicle and exited with his hands up. Officers reportedly pinned him down and tased him three to four times, all of which the accompanying Live PD crew and police body cameras recorded. Ambler reportedly said he wasn’t resisting, informed officers that he had a “congestive heart failure,” and uttered the all too familiar phrase, “I can’t breathe.” Before he was tased a final time, he is said to have pleaded, “Save me.”

APD body cam footage wasn’t released until just recently. A&E said it in a statement that neither the network “nor the producers of Live PD were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the District Attorney’s office.” As such, they “no longer retained the unaired footage after learning the investigation had concluded.”

Three of the four members of Williamson Country Commissioners Court are now calling for the resignation of Sheriff Robert Chody for failing to provide evidence to Travis County investigators. The court also said it had not been informed of Ambler’s death until 15 months later. In May, the court sued Chody and Big Fish Entertainment for filming without getting permission from the commissioners, who had cancelled a previous contract with the production company in August 2019 partially over concerns about “lack of access to evidence gathered by film crews on patrols with deputies” (via USA Today).

Chody, meanwhile, contends the DA’s office never contacted his department regarding the investigation into Ambler’s death.

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