• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Hundreds attend funeral of N.J. man fatally shot by police throughout apparent mental wellness crisis


Mar 18, 2023

They named him the “neighborhood hero and healer.”

Najee Seabrooks was “a pillar in the community” who constructed bridges involving quarreling little ones, rival gang members and victims of gun violence in a city that has noticed its share just before his personal life was reduce brief at 31, household and pals mentioned at a memorial Saturday.

Police shot and killed Seabrooks following 5 hours of tense negotiations as he was in the grips of an apparent mental wellness episode, harming himself with knives and calling 911 various occasions.

Hundreds gathered at the Christian Fellowship Center in Paterson, a line snaking in rows as soft gospel played. Seabrooks lay in an open casket, wearing a black suit and a pair of black and white Vans sneakers, his favourite footwear.

“By the quantity of men and women right here these days, we recognize that he was loved,” the Rev. Sarah Anthony mentioned.

Seabrooks’ perform for the Paterson Healing Collective, a neighborhood nonprofit, drew him to the city’s most vulnerable men and women, as nicely as these most most likely to commit violence. It also connected him to these with influence, from neighborhood activists to members of the City Council and the head of a regional hospital, who mentioned his death really should spur reform.

The March three incident has renewed urgency in conversations more than how emergency responders manage men and women in the throes of a mental wellness crisis, which includes what is the greatest way for police to respond to such calls.

In an obituary, his household recalled his positivity and “infectious smile.”

Born and raised in Paterson, Seabrooks was a championship basketball player for Eastside Higher College. He got an associate’s degree from Ventura College in California but returned dwelling to Paterson exactly where, following surviving a drive-by shooting, he started perform as a “high-threat intervention specialist,” handling some of the nonprofit’s most complex instances.

Outdoors of perform, his tastes tended toward the easier pleasures. Video games and pizza. Coaching his small brother, Sutan, in basketball. Ice cream in the park with his four-year-old daughter, Sofia.

A man wearing a jacket emblazoned with a memorial portrait of Najee Seabrooks enters the funeral on Saturday.

“He loved her far more than something and would do all he could to make positive she was taken care of,” his household wrote.

His mother, Melissa Carter, cried out although she viewed his physique one particular final time, as roses had been placed inside her son’s casket.

“Why?” she screamed as she returned to her seat.

“This shouldn’t have occurred,” an individual else shouted.

Teddie Martinez was Seabrooks’ mentor at the Paterson Healing Collective, but mentioned it was he who discovered “so substantially about life” from the younger Seabrooks, even turning him into a convert for Vans sneakers.

“As extended as I have breath in me, Najee’s name will not go in vain,” he mentioned.

Martinez mentioned he was denied access to Seabrooks throughout the police standoff in spite of his personal perform as a violence interventionist. His group has argued Seabrooks could have survived the ordeal if he had gotten psychiatric care when he necessary it, and Martinez asked these assembled to “not drop the ball on this” and to continue to demand “Justice for Najee.”

State Lawyer Common Matthew Platkin’s workplace is investigating Seabrooks’ killing as essential by state law. The workplace on Thursday released hours of physique camera footage displaying police negotiating with Seabrooks for numerous hours just before shooting him as he leapt from a bathroom.

The workplace mentioned Seabrooks “came out of the bathroom and lunged toward the officers with a knife in his hand.”

At his memorial Saturday, Lisa Muhammad, who study a tribute, mentioned Seabrooks’ death, like his life, really should inspire other folks.

“That has to be the final Black man they kill,” she mentioned.

Editor’s Note: If you are facing a mental wellness disorder, you are not alone. Mental wellness problems impact men and women from all locations of life and all ages, but are treatable. Get in touch with Substance Abuse and Mental Wellness Solutions Administration’s national helpline at 1-800-662-Aid (4357) for remedy referral and facts.

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Deion Johnson might be reached at djohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Stick to him on Twitter @DeionRJohhnson

Daysi Calavia-Robertson might be reached at dcalavia-robertson@njadvancemedia.com. Stick to her on Instagram at @presspassdaysi or Twitter @presspassdaysi.

S.P. Sullivan might be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Stick to him on Twitter @spsullivan.

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