Paterson peace activist came at cops with knife during standoff, NJ officials say
🔴 Najee Seabrooks called 911 while barricaded in a bathroom
🔴 Police said if he put down his knife he could talk to his mentor
🔴 Cops opened fire when Seabrooks lunged at them with a knife
PATERSON — Police fatally shot a 31-year-old city activist after he ran toward officers with a knife in his hand, state prosecutors said Thursday.
Paterson police have come under fire by family and members of the Paterson Healing Collective who believe they could have helped Najee Seabrooks if they could have spoken to him.
An investigation by the state Attorney General's Office concluded that Seabrooks barricaded himself in a bathroom of an apartment on Mill Street with several knives after "experiencing a bad reaction to something he had smoked" in the early morning hours of March 3.
Paterson police arrived around 7:40 a.m. after Seabrooks called 911. He told the officers that he needed an escort because he believed people were trying to kill him. The officers spoke with family members and determined there was no threat.
Family members, EMS workers, a trained Paterson police negotiator and two police sergeants spoke to Seabrooks for 90 minutes in an effort to get him to come out of the bathroom to get help, according to the Attorney General's office.
Officers told Seabrooks that his work mentor could not enter the apartment because of concerns for his safety unless he put down a knife and came out of the bathroom. He spoke to his mentor over the phone.
After a period of silence, a loud bang was heard coming from the bathroom and water began to flood the bathroom. Seabroks was also using a knife to cut himself, officials said.
Officers tried at one point to enter the bathroom but were unsuccessful because the door was blocked. Seabrooks told police he had a fully loaded gun and threatened to shoot people and threw things from behind the bathroom door. He also threw an unknown liquid in the face of an officer who was taken to a hospital, officials said.
Seabrooks also went back and forth in his mood, between wanting to cooperate with police and threatening to "die in the bathroom and take one of the officers with him," according to the Attorney General's Office.
He finally came out of the bathroom at 12:35 p.m. and lunged at Officer Anzore Tsay and Officer Jose Hernandez with a knife, officials said. They fired multiple times at Seabrooks, who fell to the ground. Seabrooks was taken to Saint Joseph’s Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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