At approximately 3pm on April 30, 1998, an HIV positive man by the name of Daniel Victor Jones lead LAPD on a high speed chase which ended on the top of a south Los Angeles freeway interchange where he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun. Because the drama started as a high speed police chase, the TV channels were all over it, interrupting their regular early afternoon broadcast (afterschool cartoons for children) to offer live feeds from their news helicopters instead.
After stopping his truck on the interstate, effectively paralyzing two Los Angeles freeways during the afternoon rush hour, Daniel V. Jones pulled out a banner he had made for this occasion and displayed it for the news helicopters to see. It was pretty windy on the interstate that day, so Daniel Jones weighted the banner with a container for all it was worth. The banner read the following:
HMO’s are in it for the money. Live free, love safe, or die.
Prior to leading the LAPD on the high speed chase, Daniel Jones made a 911 call in which he told the Highway Patrol that he was in pain due to mistreatment by the HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) in whose care he had been placed. As was confirmed later, aside from being HIV positive, Daniel Jones also suffered from cancer.
Daniel Jones had a golden retriever with him in the truck. After stopping atop the interstate, he set the truck on fire with himself and the pooch inside. As the flames engulfed the truck’s cabin, Daniel quickly dashed out, but left the dog inside to burn to death 🙁
As helicopter cameras kept rolling, Daniel was filmed frantically extinguishing his clothing which he must have doused with gasoline while still inside. David then stepped up on the freeway wall, as if with an intent to jump off the overpass, but instead he threw off a bag in which was a videotape containing a statement with details of his symptoms and an announcement that he’s done battling the disease. HMO refused him treatment so he saw himself “a dead man”.
After a standoff lasting close to 50 minutes, during which Los Angeles Police Department had their sharpshooters with David in their sights waiting for a permission to fire, the man pulled a shotgun out of his truck, put the barrel into his mouth, leaned over and pulled the trigger. The whole thing was broadly televised, leading many to harshly criticize Los Angeles TV stations’ practices.
Even though there weren’t any close ups filmed, you can see a stream of Daniel Jones’ blood flowing from his head across the interstate. The year was 1998 and the US kids already got a taste of reality. There was an important message about abuses of responsibilities on behalf of medical organizations in Daniel’s suicide, yet the sheep, already back then, took the focus away from the real issue and made it all about the TVs broadcasting reality live. Little has changed since…