Fox News Channel is being sued for inadvertently broadcasting live a man's suicide last year, despite apologizing for the "severe human error" that led to the airing.
"This suicide was broadcast live nationally," the lawsuit says. "Because Fox News did not delay the broadcast by even a few seconds – despite Shepard Smith's pleas to stop the broadcast – every person in the country watching the program saw the driver shoot himself in the head."
BBC News reported on Monday that Angela Rodriguez, the mother of JoDon Romero's three children, filed a court filling in the state of Arizona against Fox claiming that the children, aged nine, 13 and 15, had suffered "severe emotional and psychological trauma," though the amount in damages has not yet been specified.
Last September, Fox's "Studio B with Shepard Smith" showed helicopter footage of Romero, 33, running away through a desert field near Phoenix after an extended police chase over a stolen car. The man then suddenly decides to stop, pulls out a gun, and shoots himself in the head before the live stream could be cut.
"We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five-second delay," Michael Clemente, Fox's executive vice president for news editorial, said following the incident.
"Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen," he said in a statement.
Police later confirmed that Romero had earlier fired at officers and a police helicopter, and had died after a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The suspect was revealed to have had a long criminal history and was wanted for parole violations.
His children apparently saw the footage on the Internet, initially unaware that the man they were watching was their father, according to the lawsuit which was filed earlier this month.
Rodriguez revealed that the children have been "severely traumatized" by the footage and have been examined by a psychologist, who said that the older two have shown 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."
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