The Fox News Channel blamed “severe human error” for its live coverage of a man committing suicide after he led police on a high-speed chase in the Arizona desert outside Phoenix on Friday.
The man is seen running through desert brush before he pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head in this very NSFW video, which Fox News captured via a helicopter following the chase.
A Phoenix Police Department representative confirmed to Reuters that the man, who is unidentified, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was not killed by authorities.
The hot pursuit was sparked after the man was suspected of stealing a vehicle.
Michael Clemente, Fox News' executive vice president of news editorial, said the cable-news network did not intend to show the grisly footage to its audience.
"We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five-second delay," Clemente said in a statement quoted by Reuters. “"Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error, and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.”
Clemente did not say who was responsible for the mishap or whether that person would be disciplined by Fox News.
A visibly annoyed Shephard Smith, who was anchoring Fox News during the incident, apologized to viewers after the suicide was shown on live television.
“We really messed up,” Smith told viewers. “That won’t happen again on my watch, and I’m sorry.”
Smith explained the normally routine 5-second delay implemented by the news outlet while covering high-speed chases before Clemente put out his statement.
“Some explaining to do: while we were taking that car chase and showing it to you live, when the guy pulled over and got out of the video, we went on delay," Smith said. "So that’s why I didn't talk for about ten seconds. We created a five-second delay as if you were to bleep back your DVR five seconds, that’s what we did with the picture we were showing you so that we would see in the studio what was happening five seconds before you did, so if anything went horribly wrong, we’d be able to cut away from it without subjecting you to it.”
However, the anchor said: “[W]e really messed up. And we're all very sorry. That didn't belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV. And I personally apologize to you that happened.”