A&E’s top rated Live PD, which follows cops live on the job, has been canceled after weeks of protests and civil unrest over police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people at the hands of police officers.
“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 to Variety on Wednesday. “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.”
A spokesperson for A&E did not immediately return BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
The decision comes just days after the Austin American-Statesman reported the encounter between Javier Ambler, a Black man who died in March 2019 after sheriff’s deputies in Austin pinned him to the ground and repeatedly tased him, was captured by a Live PD crew.
In the video footage reportedly captured by the crew and on the deputies’ body cams, the former postal worker pleads for mercy, telling them he has congestive heart failure and can’t breathe. As the struggle continues, Ambler says “I can’t breathe” and screams for help, the newspaper reported. However, Statesman and news station KVUE reported that not only did the episode never air, Live PD footage of Ambler’s death was destroyed.
Host and executive producer Dan Abrams pushed back against the Statesman on Twitter, saying the newspaper should “really focus on the death of Javier Ambler,” and suggesting the local district attorney was only “suddenly focused on this now” for political reasons despite having body cam footage from the deputies.
A&E had already pulled Live PD episodes this past weekend “out of respect for the families of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives,” but Abrams told fans just days ago that the show was returning.
After news of the cancelation was published Wednesday, Abrams said he was “beyond disappointed,” adding that he was convinced the show, which is a big ratings driver for A&E, would go on.
The decision to cancel the show comes one day after the Paramount Network announced it was canceling the long-running reality show Cops, which also filmed law enforcement on patrol in the field. The show first aired in 1989.