Fox News has been sued by the family of an Arizona man whose suicide was televised live, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq.
Angela Rodriguez, the mother of the man’s three sons, who are 9, 13 and 15 years old, alleges in a complaint that they suffered extreme emotional distress after seeing an online video of the suicide, the story notes. Fox News Channel, Fox Entertainment Group and News Corp. are named as plaintiffs.
The footage was watched by millions of viewers when it aired live on the cable network in September 2012, as Fox News covered an 80-mile police pursuit of JoDon Romero. During the chase, Romero fired at squad cars and news helicopters, eventually leaving his car in the desert and running down a dirt road before shooting himself in the head.
When the event aired on "Studio B with Shepard Smith," Smith, who had been narrating the coverage, yelled at the control room to stop airing the footage. "Get off, get off, get off, get off, get off, get off, get off — get off it, get off it, get off it!" he yelled, the piece reports. Smith later apologized for airing the footage.
The lawsuit says Romero’s three sons were in school at the time, and "Rumor of a suicide broadcast on live television generated considerable buzz among the students at the school, particularly with respect to the two older boys." The boys found footage on YouTube and then "as they watched, they realized in horror that they were watching their father."
Neither of the two older children has returned to school since watching the footage, and a psychologist has found they have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the lawsuit alleges.
Fox News said it won’t comment on pending litigation.