A&E canceled "Live PD" Wednesday, one day after Paramount Network took similar action against "Cops," another reality series that follows on-duty police. Both decisions were madein the aftermath of protests over George Floyd's killing while in police custody on May 25.
A&E's move comes one day after it acknowledged "Live PD," which premiered in 2016 and was in its fourth season, had destroyed video of a black man's death during a 2019 Texas police stop.
A&E issued a statement to USA TODAY explaining its decision to pull the show, while leaving the door open to future programming that involves police.
"This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on 'Live PD,'" the statement said. "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.”
On Monday, the Austin American-Statesman, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, and KVUE-TV reported details of the death of Javier Ambler II, a black man whowas arrested by sheriff’s deputies in Williamson County, Texas, in March 2019 in connection with a traffic violation. The story reported that a "Live PD" crew filmed the incident.
A&E confirmed Tuesday that “video of the tragic death of Javier Ambler was captured by body cams worn on the officers involved as well by the producers of 'Live PD' who were riding with certain officers involved.”
The network said the unaired video was eventually destroyed after a police investigation ended.
"Live PD" and "Cops," which feature real police on the streets, have come under new scrutiny in the wake of Floyd's death on Memorial Day and subsequent national protests about police brutality, racism and mistreatment of black people.
Paramount announced the fate of long-running "Cops" in a short statement Tuesday: “‘Cops’ is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return.”
Floyd's funeral was held Tuesday in Houston and his brother, Philonise Floyd, testified before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, asking it to fix the criminal justice system.
"This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs. Do the right thing," he told lawmakers.
Floyd was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, with one, Derek Chauvin, holding his knee on the 46-year-old man's neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin and three fellow officers face various murder charges.
Last week, A&E cited Floyd's death in cutting short a "Live PD" marathon and pulling two new episodes of the series from the weekend's schedule.
“Out of respect for the families of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives, in consultation with the departments we follow, and in consideration for the safety of all involved, we have made the decision not to broadcast 'Live PD' this weekend,” the network said in a statement.
Before canceling "Cops," Paramount pulled the Season 33 premiere of "Cops" that was to air on June 8.
Floyd's death has led to a re-examination of all matters pertaining to police, including scripted dramas, a longtime TV staple.
"Cops" was a pioneer in the law-enforcement docu-series format, premiering in 1989 on Fox, where it aired for 25 seasons. It survived an earlier cancellation, moving to Spike, which relaunched as Paramount Network in 2018. It had a six-season run on those cable networks.