Body camera video released in deadly shooting of Paterson community activist

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, March 17, 2023
Disturbing body cam video released from deadly Paterson shooting
Body camera footage was released Thursday of a police-involved confrontation in Paterson, New Jersey that led to the shooting death of Najee Seabrooks. Sonia Rincon reports.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New body camera footage was released Thursday of a police-involved confrontation in Paterson that led to the shooting death of a community activist earlier this month.

The deadly shooting happened on March 3, when Paterson police officers responded to Mill Street after receiving a 911 call from an individual in distress.

Officials say the individual, identified as 31-year-old Najee Seabrooks, was having a mental health crisis.

When officers arrived, they encountered family members of Seabrooks. They told the officers that Seabrooks was hallucinating and behaving erratically. At the family's request, the officers called an ambulance.

The family escorted officers to an apartment, where they spoke with Seabrooks, who had locked himself inside a bathroom in the apartment.

The family said he may have been experiencing a bad reaction to something he had smoked that made him act out of character.

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Officials say the family members told the police that they believed he had arrived at the apartment around 2:00 a.m., and in the morning, grabbed some knives and locked himself inside the bathroom.

Seabrooks' mom is seen on the video pleading with her son to come out of the bathroom.

She is heard saying, "Najee stop this, I am your mother, open the door."

Officers try to reason with him and EMT offers medical help. Seabrooks even calls 911 while police are there.

Hours into the negotiations between the 31-year-old and the officers, police say they heard a loud crash from inside the bathroom and water began to flood the apartment.

That's when the situation escalates. Authorities say Seabrooks was armed with knives and told police he had a loaded gun.

Video from other body-worn cameras show officers coming into the apartment with bigger weapons and aiming them at the door.

Around 12:25 p.m., officials say Seabrooks came out of the bathroom and lunged towards the officers with a knife in his hand. That's when the officers shoot Seabrooks. The terrifying moments were caught on body camera footage.

Seabrooks' death has sparked outrage from other community activists.

The release of the video comes after vigils and calls for transparency, some accusing Paterson Police of excessive use of force.

Seabrooks worked for an organization dedicated to stopping gun violence in Paterson.

The attorney general's office says investigation is not over.


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