Rodney James Hess was shot to death by police after being stopped on a Tennessee highway. Hess had livestreamed the encounter on Facebook. Police are now investigating the situation.
Police are claiming that Hess had acted erratically after being pulled over and "attempted to use his vehicle to strike the officers at least twice," according to NBC News. One officer characterized Hess actions as an "escalation of events." Police fired shots through the windshield. Hess was airlifted to a hospital where he died shortly thereafter.
Hess posted two separate videos of the ordeal which do not depict what the police claim they saw. Hess can be heard demanding to speak to a higher commander. Gunshots can be heard in the video as well.
"Though we are aware such a video exists, we cannot confirm its authenticity. As with anything that might potentially be evidence, we will examine it to determine if it has probative benefit," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer Josh DeVine said. TBI is not currently disclosing the identities of the officers involved.
"At the time there was no threat," said Hess family attorney Don Rouzan. "He was asking for a supervising officer and they opened fire."
"Rodney was a father, a son and hard worker," his cousin Donald Hess III said. "Rodney suffered from mental illness but was a functioning member of society. He often traveled for work — mostly construction work — and he did everything for his children." Hess's fianceè says he suffered from bipolar disorder. Other members of his family have taken to Facebook to ask witnesses to come forward with more information:
"We're just praying that justice will be served and that if there's anything covered up that it will be brought to justice, that it wouldn't be just another black man shot by police officers," said Lee Smith, Rodney Hess' grandfather. "All we're asking for is justice."
TBI will continue to investigate the situation until all findings are handed over to 28th District Attorney General Garry Brown who will decide whether the case will be presented to a grand jury.
[Photo: Screenshot from Facebook]