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US Cops Show Cancelled

One of America’s longest running reality TV cop shows has been cancelled amid nationwide protests against police brutality over George Floyd’s death.

Cable network Paramount said it had no plans for Cops, which first aired more than three decades ago, to return. The future of another reality ride-along cop show, Live PD, is in doubt.

The A&E cable TV network hit has been engulfed by controversy since the death of another unarmed black man who was heard pleading: “I can’t breathe.”

Cops ran for 25 years after first being broadcast on Fox in 1989, before it was taken up by Paramount’s predecessor, Spike TV, in 2013. Its 33rd season had been due to air on the ViacomCBS-owned network on Monday.

A Paramount spokesperson told US media on Tuesday: “Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return.”

The show was temporarily pulled from air late last month as protests gathered pace over the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died on 25 May in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a police officer knelt on his neck. He was heard saying: “I can’t breathe.”

Since Floyd’s death, some activists and opinion writers have called for cop shows to be yanked from air. They have argued that the genre portrays police officers as action-heroes and stigmatises African-American communities. The future of Live PD, another programme that follows police on patrol around the nation, is also uncertain.

Last week the A&E cable network pulled episodes and said it was evaluating whether to bring the show back. A&E said its decision was out of “respect for the families of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives”. Live PD is under scrutiny following last year’s death of Javier Ambler, a black man from Texas.

The 40-year-old father-of-two died on 28 March 2019 following a 22-minute police chase that ended in the city of Austin.

Live PD was filming sheriff’s deputies when the pursuit began. Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore has accused A&E of failing to hand over its video footage of Ambler’s death to investigators. Williamson County deputies reportedly began chasing Ambler because he failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic.

Police body-camera video shows Ambler – who had been on his way home from a poker night with friends – on the ground with several officers. Ambler tells the sheriff’s deputies he has congestive heart failure and repeatedly says: “I can’t breathe.”

A post-mortem examination said Ambler died of congestive heart failure and hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with morbid obesity “in combination with forcible restraint”. The death was ruled a homicide.