Live PD, A&E's highest-rated show, is canceled at the cable network. The controversial police reality show's cancellation comes just one day after Paramount canceled Cops, as America continues another week of anti-police brutality protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder on May 25.
"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," A&E said in a statement to TV Guide.
Live PD, which is hosted by ABC News anchor Dan Abrams and features live video feeds from police agencies through the U.S., is under fire after admitting it destroyed footage of a man dying in police custody. Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old black man and father of two, was pulled over in March of 2019 for failing to dim his headlights when turning into oncoming traffic. Body cam footage from one of the Williamson County Sheriff's deputies involved in the arrest showed Ambler explaining he had congestive heart failure and pleading for mercy before he was shocked for a final time with a taser, according to the Austin-American Statesman, which obtained the body cam video. The incident was filmed by Live PD producers who were gathering footage while the show was on hiatus, but the footage has been destroyed and can't be handed over to investigators, show reps told the Statesman.
Abrams posted a statement on Twitter saying that neither the Austin Police Department, which conducted an investigation of the incident, nor the district attorney's office asked the producers for their footage or for an interview. "As is the case with all footage taken by Live PD producers, we no longer retained the unaired footage after learning that the investigation was concluded," he wrote. "As with all calls we follow, we are not there to be an arm of the police or law enforcement but rather to chronicle what they do and air some of that footage, and our polices were in place to avoid having footage used by law enforcement against private citizens."
No charges have been filed in the incident, but the Statesman reports that Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore, now tasked with investigating Ambler's death, plans to take the case to a grand jury. A&E did not respond to TV Guide's request for comment about the footage.
Live PD was initially pulled from the network's schedule last week "out of respect for the families of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives," the network said. The series was the No. 1 rated show on basic cable, having risen to the top spot during the COVID-19 pandemic as sports and other programming have been off the air.
Deadline was the first to report the news of Live PD's cancellation.