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Fox News sued for broadcasting Arizona man’s suicide

By David Ferguson
Friday, October 4, 2013 9:56 EDT
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Fox News host Shepard Smith apologizes for broadcasting video of a man committing suicide. Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.
 
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A woman who watched her brother commit suicide on the air filed suit Thursday in Maricopa County Court against News Corp, Fox News LLP and several affiliate stations, saying that she was “severely traumatized” by the event. According to Courthouse News Service, Nature Romero was shocked and horrified to see her brother JoDon Romero shoot himself in the head in real time on Sep. 28, 2012 at the end of a car chase with police.

The video was broadcast on Fox News Channel’s afternoon program, “Studio B with Shepard Smith.”

“The 80-mile chase ended in the desert near Salome, Arizona,” the complaint said. “The driver of the pursued vehicle jumped out of the car and began running through the desert. These events were televised live on ‘Studio B’ via a feed from the helicopter of the Fox local affiliate in Phoenix.”

Normally the program runs a time-delay feature to keep from airing offensive material, but on the day in question, it appears that the delay was not operating.

“Viewers of ‘Studio B’ saw the events unfold at the exact time they happened without the several second delay,” the report explained. Anchor Shepard Smith, realizing what was about to happen, shouted at producers to shut down the feed.

“Shepard Smith, acknowledging that what was about to occur ‘didn’t belong on television’ began urging his control room to ‘get off’ — repeating the phrase more than 10 times in rapid succession before yelling ‘Get off it!’” the suit alleges.

“The television viewing public watching ‘Studio B,’ including plaintiff, saw a live full screen broadcast of the driver raising a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. The broadcast of the scene continued as the driver’s lifeless body collapsed forward,” it read.

Romero is seeking punitive damages claiming emotional distress and negligence. She is also asking that Fox News cover the costs resulting necessitated by her decision to seek treatment for the sleeplessness, headaches and depression that followed in the wake of watching her brother’s suicide alongside millions of viewers.

A Fox News spokesperson told Courthouse News that it has not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment further.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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