PATERSON, N.J. (WABC) – On Friday, the mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, defended the police following the release of a video showing part of what led to the death of Naji Seabrooks.
“They arrived at the scene and it was a five-hour standoff, they arrived at the scene to help, but they also did everything they could to avoid a tragic outcome,” said Mayor Andre Saeg. “The investigation is ongoing, but from what I’ve read so far, it appears that the officers did everything they could to prevent a tragic outcome.”
The fatal shooting happened March 3 when Paterson police officers responded to Mill Street after receiving a 911 call from a man in distress.
The body camera footage was released Thursday.
Officials say the man, identified as 31-year-old Naji Seabrooks, was having a mental health crisis.
When officers arrived, they were confronted by members of the Seabrooks family. They told officers Seabrooks was hallucinating and acting erratically. At the request of the family, police officers called an ambulance.
The family accompanied officers to the apartment, where they spoke with Seabrooks, who had locked himself in the apartment’s bathroom.
The family said he may have had a bad reaction to what he had been smoking, causing him to act out of character.
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Officials say family members told police they believed he came to the apartment around 2:00 a.m. and grabbed several knives in the morning and locked himself in the bathroom.
The video shows Seabrooks’ mom asking her son to come out of the bathroom.
She can be heard saying, “Naji stop it, I’m your mother, open the door.”
Officers try to talk him down and an EMT offers medical assistance. Seabrooks even calls 911 while the police are there.
After several hours of negotiations between the 31-year-old and officers, police say they heard a loud bang coming from 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 cameras shows officers entering the apartment with a larger weapon and aiming it at the door.
Around 12:25 p.m., officials say Seabrooks came out of the bathroom and lunged at officers with a knife in his hand. That’s when the officers shoot Seabrooks. Scary moments were caught on body cameras.
Seabrooks’ death caused outrage among other social activists.
The release of the video came after a vigil and calls for transparency, with some accusing Patterson police of excessive force.
Seabrooks worked for an organization dedicated to ending gun violence in Paterson.
The Prosecutor General’s Office says that the investigation is not over.
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