Rodney Hess was shot and killed by police in Tennessee, and his death was captured on a Facebook Live video that has now gone viral and sparked controversy over his killing.
The New Orleans native was killed on Thursday afternoon after allegedly stopping his car on the highway to block traffic, Nola.com reported. Deputies from the Crockett County Sheriff’s Department responded and eventually opened fire when they claim he tried to strike the officers.
Hess reportedly drove away but stopped a short distance later and died of his injuries.
The Facebook Live video showed Rodney Hess screaming as officers shot him and the camera then fell to the floor of his car, showing shattered glass. The video, which does not actually show Hess being shot, has since gone viral and sparked controversy over whether his shooting was justified.
Family members are calling for a full investigation as to how the shooting took place.
“We’re just praying that justice will be served; if there’s anything that’s covered up, that it will be brought to light; that it wouldn’t be just another black man shot by police officers,” his stepfather, Lee Smith, said in a video posted to Facebook. “All we’re asking for is justice.”
Other members have spoken out after video of the fatal shooting of Rodney Hess was released. The man’s fiancé, Johnisha Provost, said on Friday that he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone and just wanted help when he was shot by a Crockett County Sheriff’s Deputy.
“He was not on a suicide mission,” she told the Commercial Appeal. “He was not trying to harm anybody. He was asking them for help and they shot him down.”
Provost said she watched the events play out in real time through Rodney’s Facebook Live video.
“I found out as it was happening,” Provost said. “I was at work and my aunt called me and was like, ‘Rodney is in trouble.’ He was on Facebook and I logged on and I watched it.”
And Provost said she could tell from the video exactly what was happening. Hess, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was trying to find someone who could help him.
— #ResistCapitalism (@Delo_Taylor) March 18, 2017
“He couldn’t get his mind together. That’s why he asked for a higher command,” she said. “I always told him, ‘Babe, if you are ever in a situation where you need help, ask the person in charge for the higher command to help you,’ and that’s what he kept saying.”
Hess’s stepfather, Lee Smith, is calling on anyone who may have witnessed the fatal shooting to come forward and offer help finding out exactly how it transpired.
Rodney Hess shot and killed by Police in Tennessee live streaming to Facebook, asking for "Higher Authority" https://t.co/ZUorCumZZj
— Felipe Hemming (@FelipeHemming) March 17, 2017
Provost added that Hess was a good man and that police should have been more sensitive to his mental illness when responding to the disturbance.
“I want people to know he was not a threat. He was a great person. A great dad. A great provider. He just suffered from mental illness and people need to be aware of how to deal with mental illness,” Provost said. “They could have just shot his tires out or they could have handled it differently. They didn’t have to kill him.”
It was not immediately clear if anyone could face charges in the man’s shooting death.
The Facebook Live video of Rodney Hess being shot and killed by police can be seen here.
[Featured Image by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images]