TENNESSEE — On March 16, a black man named Rodney Hess sat in his SUV and logged onto his Facebook account. He then turned on the LIVE video feature, stepped out of his car, and filmed himself standing in the middle of the road.
After numerous cars nearly hit him, one passing motorist stopped. “Are you alright?” asked the female passenger. Hess replied, “I’m alright.” The car continued on its way and Hess returned to his SUV.
The LIVE video continues with Hess just sitting in the car saying nothing. We see him filming the fields of grass and highway that surround his SUV.
After minutes of doing nothing, he moves his car so that it blocks the two-lane road from both directions, leaving barely enough room for cars to go around him. After blocking the road for nearly 10-minutes he decides to drive away. He continues to broadcast on Facebook LIVE while he drives.
He eventually stops and pulls over.
While filming the cars and trucks across the street from him, Hess says, “I ain’t going to jail for nothing.” He then stops speaking.
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After a minute of silence, he moves his SUV in the middle of the road again. Outside his passenger window, we can see a car is blocked. On the opposite side of the street, a police SUV stops and puts on its lights. At this point, the bizarre 17-minute video ends.
A second Facebook LIVE video begins with Hess in his car surrounded by police. We hear Hess say, “I would like the higher commands to out. I need the higher commands to come out.” At this point, the police vehicles close in on Hess. He then screams and gun shots are heard. He tries to drive away but doesn’t get very far.
The video ends with the cell phone dropping to the floor where it captures images of broken glass from the windshield. The second video lasts less than two minutes.
Authorities said Hess became “erratic” and, when he attempted to use his vehicle to hit officers, a deputy shot him. Hess was taken to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis where he died.
The fiancée of Rodney Hess has told local reporters she wants people to know that Hess was a great father and loved life. Hess, she says, suffered from mental illness. His family now wants answers as to how he died.
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