Fox News Sued After Kids Watch Their Dad Commit Suicide
The family of a man whose suicide was broadcast live on national television on Fox News last year is suing Fox's parent company, claiming emotional distress.
According to the lawsuit filed in Maricopa County court by the mother of three of JoDon Romero's five kids, two of the kids heard at school about a suicide being shown on TV, then went home and watched the clip -- and realized it was their father who gave up running from police, and put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
-Jodon Romero Was Out of Prison for Almost Four Whole Months
-Fox News Just Showed a Man Shoot Himself in the Head on Live TV
-Man Carjacked People, Shot at Cops Before Shooting Himself on Live TV
-Fox News Apologizes for Airing Suicide, Local Station Cut Out Early
Back in September, Romero -- who had been out of prison for four months at that point -- stole a car at gunpoint in Phoenix, and it wasn't long before police were on his tail.
NBA Preseason Basketball: Phoenix Suns v. San Antonio Spurs
TicketsMon., Oct. 3, 7:00pm
NBA Preseason Basketball: Phoenix Suns v. Utah Jazz
TicketsWed., Oct. 5, 7:00pm
Arizona Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks
TicketsFri., Oct. 7, 7:00pm
TicketsSat., Oct. 8, 7:00pm
Once police determined that continuing to pursue Romero was too dangerous, police went into "surveillance" mode, which included following him with undercover units and a police helicopter.
Near 44th Avenue and Roosevelt, two officers -- one inside an undercover vehicle, the other standing outside a second undercover vehicle -- were parked off to the side of the road. Romero drove at the officers and shot at them before driving his car onto Interstate 10.
At least one car was hit with a bullet, but the officers themselves were not hit.
By the time Romero drove out to around 500th Avenue, he exited the interstate, drove south, and started heading back east.
Romero stopped the car at 491st Avenue, got out, and started running. According to Phoenix police, an officer did fire a single shot at Romero after he got out of the car, but the bullet didn't hit him. Romero shot himself in the head shortly after that, and died right there.
The local Fox affiliate Fox 10 was following the whole scene in their helicopter, and it was being broadcast live across the country on Fox News' Studio B, hosted by Shepard Smith.
The local Fox station, working on a delay, cut out as Romero pulled out a gun, and put it to his head.
Despite Smith's repeated pleas live on the air to "get off" the video, there wasn't enough time, and Romero killed himself in front of a national TV audience.
"As they watched, they realized the horror that they were watching their father," the lawsuit states.
Neither boy has been able to return to school since, the lawsuit contends.
According to the lawsuit, a psychologist found that the boys have "approximately equivalent symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that included flashbacks, repeated thoughts and feelings associated with viewing the video of their father shooting himself in the head, re-experiencing trauma, sleep disturbance, and intrusive thoughts."
The boys will require "long-term psychiatric and/or psychological treatment," the lawsuit claims, and the youngest son is also suffering some emotional distress, despite not being exposed to the video, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and the plaintiff, the boys' mother, is seeking damages.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.