PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — Friends, family and supporters of Najee Seabrooks marched up Market Street toward Paterson’s City Hall Tuesday evening. They demanded answers in his police-involved shooting death inside his own apartment and called for reform within the police department.
Seabrooks worked for the Paterson Healing Collective, which has an official mental health and crisis intervention services partnership with St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
The 31-year old barricaded himself inside his apartment Friday for around four hours during an apparent mental health crisis. The standoff ended with Paterson police officers fatally shooting Seabrooks.
“I keep replaying Friday over and over. Our team of crisis responders begged the police to allow us to help,” said Liza Choudhury of the Paterson Healing Collective.
According to other members of the Collective – who spoke earlier during a vigil – police barred them from trying to help Seabrooks.
“I’m begging the officer, showing them text messages, things that Najee is saying to me — ‘all I want to do is see your face and I’m going to come out.’ I told the officers this. They did not allow us in,” said Seabrooks’ supervisor, Teddy Martinez.
Activist Larry Hamm, of the People’s Organization for Progress, also attended the vigil.
“There’s a disparity between the way they treat Black people in distress and white people in distress. If Najee was white, he would be alive today. I hate to bring race in it, but race is in it,” said Hamm.
PIX11 News reached out to the New Jersey State Attorney’s Office, which oversees investigations involving police-involved shootings, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and the city’s Department of Public Safety.
No one responded with a comment in time for this report.
Seabrooks’ mother stood on the front steps of City Hall Tuesday, surrounded by loved ones who remembered Seabrooks during the good times.
“His smile, his laugh. The way he goofed around, how caring he is, how loving he is. He was a good friend,” said friend Ashley Shaw.