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Social justice institute calls for federal investigation after fatal police shooting of Najee Seabrooks

Social justice institute reacts to bodycam video of Paterson shooting
Social justice institute reacts to bodycam video of Paterson shooting 02:23

PATERSON, N.J. -- A social justice group is reacting to body camera footage released in the Paterson Police shooting of non-violence activist Najee Seabrooks.

Police body camera video shows Paterson officers arriving on the scene after Seabrooks himself called 911. Family members tell officers Seabrooks is hallucinating and is locked in a bathroom.

"I got a gun on me and two knives," Seabrooks can be heard saying.

"You've got a gun and two knives," an officer responds.

READ MORE: Paterson Police release body cam video from standoff leading up to fatal shooting of community activist Najee Seabrooks

The response escalates in the apartment. His mom begs him to come out.

"Najee, stop this. I am your mother. Open the door," she says.

Paterson's emergency response team moves in. Police negotiate with Seabrooks for nearly five hours.

The Attorney General says officers deployed 15 non-lethal projectiles.

"No one's going to shoot you, man," an officer says.

The Attorney General's office says that when Seabrooks lunged with a knife, police opened fire.

"I'm sure she don't want to see you like this," an officer can be heard saying before shots were fired.

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

Seabrooks died at the hospital.

"When we have a militarized police response to someone who is having a medical issue, a mental health issue, then this is what the response is going to be," said Yannick Wood, with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

The institute is demanding the United States Justice Department investigate.

"They have a pattern of unconstitutional misconduct against, unfortunately against, disproportionately against Black and brown Patersonians," Wood said.

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

"I am vehemently opposed to any federal intervention. This investigation is ongoing," Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said. "As far as what I've read so far, it looks like the officers did everything they could to prevent a tragic outcome."

The mayor says Paterson will be implementing a program where officers will co-respond with clinical social workers on a call where someone is going through a mental health crisis.

The bodycam footage also shows family members leaving the apartment after the SWAT team arrives.

Members of Paterson Healing Collective, the group Seabrooks was a part of, says Paterson Police would not allow them in the apartment to negotiate even as Seabrooks is heard begging officers to let his mentor in.

Seabrooks' funeral is scheduled for Saturday. 

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