New Jersey police shoot anti-violence worker after he emerges from an apartment with a knife

Najee Seabrooks, 31, was shot by Paterson, New Jersey, police after emerging from his brother's apartment with a knife following a five-hour standoff.

The five-hour-long standoff that erupted between officers in Paterson and a well-known city anti-violence worker ended in fatally shooting the man in his brother’s home. It began with the sobs of the mother, who pleaded with the police to end the situation.

The New Jersey attorney general’s office released details this week, including hours worth of body-camera footage taken by seven officers and seven 911 recordings. This provides the most complete account of the March 3rd standoff that resulted in Najee Seabrooks’ death.

According to the attorney general, Seabrooks was 31 years old and was a mentor and crisis intervention worker with Paterson Healing Collective. He was shot by police shortly after he emerged from his apartment with a knife.


“I’m your mom — why are you doing this?” Seabrooks’ mother yelled in one video. “Najee! I’m your mother. OPEN the door. Najee, open the door. The video does not contain Seabrooks’ reply.

Seabrooks was a long-standing volunteer who helped others in the small city of New York. His death has left his coworkers devastated. Authorities have prevented them from using their mental health expertise to resolve the situation.

The state attorney general’s office investigated the shooting as required by state law. There was also a public outcry calling for a Justice Department investigation into city’s police department.

Seabrooks dialed 911 at 8:01 a.m. to inform dispatchers that he needed immediate assistance because of death threats and needed an escort from his car. Seabrooks called 911 a half-dozen times more, telling dispatchers that he needed immediate help because someone was making death threats against him and that he needed an escort to his car.

The video shows officers arriving and offering water. He requests to speak to a sergeant who arrives quickly and asks him to use the bathroom. When she arrives, the sergeant asks her “What’s up, my love?”

Seabrooks can be hard to hear in the video. However, the sergeant asks Seabrooks “How would you go about hurting yourself?”

He said, “I have a gun on my back.”

“You have a gun and two knives?” The sergeant questions.

At that point, tension increased.

In the following four hours, additional police officers entered the apartment. According to the attorney general’s office there were also emergency medical personnel and crisis negotiators.

After a five-hour standoff, a New Jersey man was gunned down by Paterson police at his brother’s apartment.

Water can be heard and seen rushing into the hallway from the bathroom at one point. Officers discover that a fire was started when a fire alarm sounds. Seabrooks is later found naked in the bathroom.

According to the attorney general’s Office, officers fired 15 projectiles at Seabrooks. In a video, one officer said that Seabrooks was cutting his own throat.

Seabrooks can be heard saying, “Just let me go,” “I’m slowly dying.”

An officer replies: “No, come on. “I want to help you.”

All calls and videos have been deleted. The officer’s personal items often obscure the videos.

One partially obscured clip shows Seabrook’s last moments. He is still in the bathroom and asks for his mother. An officer says that they can take her to him.

“Naj! Come on, man. “Let’s go to your mom,” said the officer. “I’m certain she doesn’t want you to see her like this.”

Seabrooks emerged from the bathroom immediately after.

As shots rang out, the officer shouted “Drop it!”

Seabrooks was transported to St. Joseph’s Medical Center where he died just five hours after his first 911 call.

Seabrooks’ boss at Paterson Healing Collective Liza Chowdhury stated Friday that his death had rattled his colleagues, who were on the scene and texting with Seabrooks. She claimed that Seabrooks was texting colleagues asking for their help, and that the police prevented them from entering the apartment.

She said, “We help so many people, and then when our team member required help, we were declined to do what we do.”


She said, “That was clearly an emergency mental health situation.” Mental health situations. It takes patience, empathy, and asking the right questions.

Anti-violence activists have held a vigil in support of reforms over the past two weeks, calling for the creation of a civilian review panel and a variety of other reforms. The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice called for the Justice Department’s investigation into the city’s police department. The ACLU of New Jersey stated that the shooting proves the need for non-law enforcement to address mental health calls.

Messages seeking comments were left at the Paterson mayor, and director of public security.

In 2019, New Jersey mandated that the state attorney general investigate police fatalities, and also present evidence to a grand jury.


In a statement, the attorney general’s office stated that the investigation is ongoing and that no additional information will be released.

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