Paterson community attends funeral for Najee Seabrooks, anti-violence advocate fatally shot by police

Paterson community attends funeral for Najee Seabrooks, anti-violence advocate fatally shot by police

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) — Loved ones and family gathered for the funeral of Najee Seabrooks, an anti-violence advocate who was shot by police in Paterson.

The ceremony was held at the Christian Fellowship Center on Saturday. Many came to pay their respects to a well-known man, who lived to protect his hometown.

“He was a very profound person in the community. We needed him, they needed him here,” Valerie Dell, of the People Organization for Progress, said.

Seabrooks was killed by officers on March 3, after he barricaded himself in an apartment bathroom while he he was having a mental health crisis.

“Najee, stop this. I am your mother. Open the door,” Seabrook’s mother pleaded with him from outside the bathroom.

Officials say Seabrooks eventually came out of the bathroom and lunged towards the officers with a knife in his hand. The horrifying scene was caught on bodycam footage.

The release of that bodycam video came after vigils and calls for transparency, some accusing Paterson Police of excessive use of force.

“Look at the outpouring of love. He touched so many lives. For something like this to happen, it’s awful,” Paterson resident and family friend Ronald Lathan said at the funeral.

Those attending the funeral say they don’t understand how the community, along with the police department, will move forward, but continue to say a death like this shouldn’t happen again.

“We get out here and preach about guns, people killing one another and then to get shot by a police officer. It doesn’t make sense,” Walter Staton of the Ceasefire Against Gun Violence Group said.

Despite these sentiments, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh says the officers who responded to the scene, and engaged in a stand off with Seabrooks for five hours, did everything they could to avoid this tragic outcome.

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