Reverend Dr. Charles Franklin Boyer, the pastor of Greater Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in Trenton, declared that Paterson police “have blood on their hands from decades of snuffing out Black lives” following the fatal shooting of violence intervention specialist Najee Seabrooks.
Dozens of people from Paterson, Newark, Trenton and other parts of the state in protests over what activists called the senseless shooting of the 31-year-old man, who they say going through a mental health crisis.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, on Friday, March 3, 2023, at approximately 7:43 a.m., officers from the Paterson Police Department responded to a Mill Street address in response to a 911 call of an individual in distress.
Authorities claim that Seabrooks had barricaded himself within a bathroom.
“At approximately 8:42 a.m., additional resources from the Paterson Police Department responded to the scene including the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) and the Emergency Response Team (ERT),” said Dan Prochilo, a spokesperson for Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “During the encounter, less lethal force was deployed by three officers, identified as Hector Mendez, Qiad Lin, and Mario Vdovjak.”
During the recent protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans, police forces across the country have used weapons categorized as “less lethal” to disperse crowds and subdue individuals.
But despite their label, these tools can still overstep the inherent limitations of flesh and bone. Devices that sound innocuous—rubber bullets, tear gas—are designed to quickly change human behavior through force and chemistry.
An alternative to the kind of force that immediately kills, such weapons are not harmless.
“At approximately 12:35 p.m. two members of the ERT, Officer Anzore Tsay and Officer Jose Hernandez, discharged their weapons striking Mr. Seabrooks,” said Dan Prochilo.
Seabrooks was transported to Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:51 p.m.
A vigil, a rally and a march featuring more than 250 protesters expressed the community’s outrage over what activists called the senseless police shooting of a 31-year-old man who was experiencing a mental health crisis.
During a vigil outside the offices of Paterson Healing Collective, where Seabrooks had worked, Boyer, founder of Salvation and Social Justice, said, “We need to see the Paterson Police Department taken over by people who have a heart for Black people.”
“If he was white, he’d be alive today,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of People’s Organization for Progress, who called Seabrooks the latest casualty in a disproportionate number of police killings of young Black men.