WATCH: Alabama Deputy Shoots Mentally Ill Man to Death as Father Records
Fredrick Earl Hight II was just over a week away from his 27th birthday when his father called 911 because he was having a mental episode.
The Walker County sheriff's deputy showed up and shot the unarmed man to death as his father recorded.
Now the sister of the victim is blaming their father for not doing anything to prevent the shooting. Rochelle Rene Hight is also criticizing their father for not showing more emotion over the death of the young man.
But the father, Fredrick Earl Hight, claims he was in fear for his life.
"You better f_cking say something, dad," the son said as he was struggling with a deputy inside the kitchen of the home they shared.
But the father only told him to get on the ground to make it easier for the deputy to arrest him.
"I'm going to shoot you," the deputy threatened before he shot and killed him ten seconds later.
The father then texted the video to his daughter who lives in Michigan with very little explanation. The father, whose Facebook page lists him as a minister at the Church of Yeshua HaMashiach's Love, also suffers from mental illness, the daughter told local media.
According to AL.com:
The shooting happened at the home shared by her father and her brother. Rochelle said she found out about her brother’s death from a text message her father sent her that included a video of the struggle and the deadly shooting. The text read, “Fred was shot to death by a policeman trying to take him for mental health. Today he was throwing tool and so was in fear of my life and finally called 911.”
Rochelle said her father and brother both had a history of mental illness. They moved to Walker County from Michigan several years ago. “A couple of weeks ago I was worried for both of them,’' she said.
Rochelle said she couldn’t believe her father sent her the video. “He watched him die. He just stood there and recorded it and sent it to me, his own daughter,’' she said.
Rochelle said she was under the impression that her father had called to get help for her brother. He had previously told her that he had a mental health professional checking up on him. “And this is how it ended?” she said. “It just doesn’t seem right. The officer clearly didn’t handle it as if it was a call for help.”
“He needed help. He really, truly needed help,’' Rochelle said. “He was a creative, smart person. And he just needed help. He was trapped and killed.”
Joel Fenech, who is engaged to Rochelle Rene Hight, posted a lengthy Facebook post with the video and screenshots of the text message the father sent his daughter as well as previous messages from earlier this month where he expressed fear of his son and threatened to kill him in order to defend himself.
Below is a segment from his Facebook post:
Last night Rochelle Rene got a text from her father.
The text read:
"Fred was shot to death by a policeman trying to take him for mental health. Today he was throwing tool and so was in fear of my life and finally called 911."
Fredrick Earl Hight II , her brother, had just been shot. And she heard about something as important get brother being shot, over a text with little remorse or urgency, in which - afterward her dad went on to talk about himself a while longer, as follows:
"I also had to go hospital and neatly did my blood pressure and anxiety were over the hill"
"I couldn't move and puked up two days of food. I'm on Ativan now I don't feel control."
That's how Frederick Earl Hight broke the news to his daughter, that her baby brother had just been shot by police. Boo hoo, nobody cares about your Ativan, asshole. You son just died in front of you and you couldn't care less. Rochelle and I then shared a brief moment of grief and without much hesitation, she immediately called her mom, who answered the phone sobbing, having just gotten a similar text.
The three of us talked for a short while; shaken, distraught, confused, and in a panic trying to figure out what had just happened, when the realization came that neither Rochelle or her Mom had actually talked to Fred, her father, on the phone, like any normal person, to explain his son's death. So Rochelle called him..
Everything about this was already suspicious to begin with, considering the way he delivered the news to both of them. But the way he answered the phone for Rochelle was even more telling.
He said: "Hello Rochelle" in an icy-tone flavored with the denial of an accusation not-yet-existant.. he didn't sound sad, he sounded defensive.
He then said:
"I really can't talk to you about this until I've had some time..."
He didn't sound the least bit upset... rather, annoyed at her calling, somehow offended by the notion that she expected a verbal explanation from her father, who bore witness, and broke the news to us im the first place. What excuse does a man have for withholding the most intimate, sensitive, details from his daughter or ex-wife? His adversarial demeanor in that short phone call, it was him once again accidentally telling on himself, to people that see right through his usual fallacious rhetoric.
In that exact moment, hearing his unapologetic voice, we knew. Why would he refuse and explain what transpired? What missing detail is he leaving out? He acted she called to accuse him of something. He has been projecting so hard you can see it on the moon. The defensive, smug tone suggested how little remorse he felt. Somehow trying to paint himself a victim, as if we should feel bad for him, not the dead brother who's death he had a hand in...To a shocked big sister and loving family just wanting answers from the guy who was there... He didn't wanna talk until he got his story straight, was my first thought, because he's feeling guilty, and we're convinced that this was premeditated somehow. He couldn't bring himself to justify his actions to his daughter because he's likely feeling guilty.
Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith posted about the incident on the department's Facebook page, saying the struggle took place over a much longer time period than the 90 seconds that was captured on video, encouraging the community to "hope and pray" for a thorough investigation.
I ask that everyone keep in mind that we were not there last night. I wasn’t, you weren’t, and no one but the people involved were. It’s very easy to sit back and say what you would have done or what the officer and suspect should have done based on a minute and a half worth of video, but until you are in those positions, you just don’t know.
What I do know is that the incident occurred over a much longer time period that 1:30. And I know that a veteran deputy with over 20 years of service keeping this county safe will never be the same. I know a family that is angry and mourning the loss of their loved one will never be the same either, and our department’s thoughts and prayers are with all of them.
And for those reasons alone, none of us are in a position to condemn anyone involved. There is an investigation that has to be conducted, and it will be fair and just. It won’t take place on Facebook or around the water coolers of workplaces in the days that follow. It will take place in the experienced and professional hands of unbiased investigators committed to finding the truth amid so much chaos.
What we as a community should do is hope and pray that those investigators do the best job they can, and that while they are, the people and families affected by last night’s events find peace in the days and months to come.
Below are the screenshots of the text messages between the father and daughter that were posted on her fiancé's Facebook page.
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