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Paterson community demands officers who fatally shot Najee Seabrooks be held accountable

Paterson community calls for justice for Najee Seabrooks
Paterson community calls for justice for Najee Seabrooks 01:54

PATERSON, N.J. -- Family members and a number of violence prevention groups in Paterson gathered for a march Friday, calling for the officers who fatally shot an anti-violence activist after a standoff to be held accountable.

Family members and activists have been demanding the police officers who shot Najee Seabrooks be fired. They're also demanding a unit be established to help those going through a mental health crisis, as well as the quick release of footage from body cameras worn by the officers.

RELATED STORY: Paterson community rallies in memory of Najee Seabrooks, anti-violence activist fatally shot by police

One week after Seabrooks' death, the protests continued as a crowd marched from Paterson Free Public Library to the police department, chanting, "Jail the killer cops" and "Justice for Najee."

The People's Organization for Progress is asking for federal intervention.

"We are calling for a Department of Justice investigation. We think there is a pattern and practice in Paterson that warrants such an investigation, and we think the Paterson Police Department should be put under federal authority. A consent decree should be put into place and an independent federal monitor should be put over the Paterson Police," said Lawrence Hamm, with People's Organization for Progress.

Seabrooks' mother spoke to CBS2 about her son, who was a father and an activist who mentored young people.

"Najee was out just to help his community. He was a good kid. He was well-known in the community. All he wanted to do was help the community," mother Mellissa Carter said.

Watch Christine Sloan's report

Paterson community calls for action after deadly police shooting 02:39

"That is a brother that was trying to bring the city together, and that's the one that you take out?" said a speaker at Friday's march.

"I saw him every day doing the work," another speaker said.

"He was like the hope of our family," said Mark Carter, Seabrooks' uncle.

The Attorney General says Seabrooks barricaded himself in a bathroom last Friday when police arrived at the building on Mill Street. Family of the 31-year-old says he was having a mental health crisis, and they weren't allowed to help.

Investigators say three officers tried to use non-lethal force during the four-hour confrontation.

"The police should have been out there eight hours, nine hours," said Zellie Thomas, with Black Lives Matter, Paterson.

RELATED STORY: Family of Paterson, NJ activist Najee Seabrooks speaks with CBS2 after fatal police shooting

Sources tell CBS2 Seabrooks threw an object at officers, and because of busted pipes and a small fire, police couldn't utilize a stun gun during the response.

There's been no explanation from the Attorney General as to why deadly force was used.

"Charge the cops. Indict the cops. Prosecute the cops," said Kason Little, with Black Lives Matter, Elizabeth. "We know none of us are exempt from being next because we see it with our loved ones, we see it with our siblings, like Najee."

We reached out to Paterson's police union, but no one has gotten back to us.

The Attorney General identified the officers who fired their weapons as Anzory Tsay and Jose Hernandez, both members of department's emergency response team.

Protesters say they won't stop until they get justice for Seabrooks. They plan on attending next Tuesday's City Council meeting.

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