The family of a man, who was gunned down by Tennessee cops on Thursday, are speaking out, saying that 36-year-old Rodney Hess was “not on a suicide mission. He was not trying to harm anybody. He was asking them for help and they shot him down.”
The Commercial Appeal reports that around 2:23 p.m. on March 16, the New Orleans native was sitting in his SUV, reportedly blocking traffic on the exit ramp of Highway 412 and Highway 88 in Alamo by parking his vehicle sideways, when he was approached by Crockett County deputies.
Hess was on Facebook Live when the incident unfolded, and he can be heard in the 17-minute graphic video saying, “I would like the higher commands to come out” before his vehicle began moving in reverse.
A deputy standing adjacent to the driver’s window is seen waving something in his hand seconds before shots were fired, followed by Hess screaming in agony.
Josh DeVine, a spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, stated that a deputy shot Hess “through his windshield as authorities became concerned he’d run them over,” which is not depicted in the video.
“The information suggests that multiple officers were at risk of injury when this situation escalated,” said DeVine.
Deputies say the victim was displaying erratic behavior before the Alamo shooting occurred.
After Hess was shot by law enforcement, he was able to drive his vehicle a short distance before crashing into a ditch. He was transported to Regional Medical Center in Memphis where he later died from his injuries.
Johnisha Provost, the victim’s fiancé, stated that she learned of the Alamo shooting when she “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.”
She went on to say that Hess suffered from bipolar disorder, and after watching the video of the officer-involved shooting, she could tell that “he was disoriented and lost.”
“He couldn’t get his mind together. That’s why he asked for a higher command. 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.”
Provost added that Hess was visiting his mother in Memphis for two days. before the fatally shooting transpired, he was on his way home to be with his fiancé and daughter.
The victim’s relatives say they want justice, asking witnesses to come forward. If anything was covered up during the shooting, they want it to come to light, and they don’t want it to be just another case of a “black man shot by police officers.”
An investigation is ongoing.