U.S.

'Please Don't Kill Me, Officers': Family Demands Answers as 27-Year-Old Man Dies After Recording Visit to Police on Facebook Live

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Paterson, New Jersey, Tuesday night to join a grieving family in demanding to know what happened to their 27-year-old son, who died Monday, two days after he was brought to a local hospital unconscious, having posted a Facebook Live video of a frantic visit to the Paterson Police Department. 

Jameek Lowery, a father of three, arrived at the Paterson Police Department in the early morning hours on Saturday, after he'd made several 911 calls saying that he was on ecstasy and feeling paranoid. 

In the Facebook Live video of the encounter at the police station, which Lowery streamed on the social media site at 4 a.m., he could be heard frantically asking the police officers to "please don't shoot me," saying, "I'm just paranoid, I'm just paranoid. 

"Why are you all trying to kill me, officer?" Lowery said. "Y'all trying to kill me because you think I told on you all. What did I do?

"Please don't kill me," Lowery said again, before asking for help, water and  to "call my mom." 

Lowery also repeatedly told the police he had not been working with the FBI in its ongoing investigation in which several Paterson police officers were arrested and charged with widespread misconduct, including illegal traffic stops, the illicit sale of drugs and participation in an assault on a suicidal patient at a hospital emergency room. 

The Facebook Live recording abruptly ended with Lowery surrounded by several officers as he pleaded for police to "please don't kill me." 

What happened next is not entirely clear, but according to his family, Lowery ended up on life support at St. Joseph's University Medical Center with visible facial injuries not long after his police encounter.

Lowery's brother, Jamir King, told the Paterson Press that Jameek had suffered a broken cheekbone and a fractured eye socket at some point after the recording was made. "His face wasn't like that in the video," King said. 

In a statement, the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, which is investigating Lowery's death, said police officers "used physical force and compliance holds to secure Mr. Lowery in the ambulance" but  that "hospital records indicate no acute trauma."

The prosecutor's office said Lowery had been transported from police headquarters to the hospital in five to 12 minutes, according to police and fire service records.

 A timeline provided by the prosecutor's office offered some insight into what might have happened in the hours leading up to Lowery's hospitalization but did not say exactly how Lowery sustained his apparent injuries. 

Accoding to the timeline, Lowery  first called 911 at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, saying he had taken ecstasy and was feeling paranoid. Paterson firefighters transported Lowery to a local hospital, but he became erratic and left, the prosecutor's office said. 

At 3:42 a.m., another 911 call was believed to have been made by Lowery, with his father alleging that people were trying to kill him.

Not long after, Lowery arrived at the police department's headquarters, appearing "agitated," and was taken to the hospital, according to the prosecutors office. When he arrived, Lowery was "unresponsive." He was pronounced dead early Monday morning.

Speaking to Newsweek, New York civil rights activist Hawk Newsome, who has been working with Lowery's family to determine what happened, said that after hearing that there was "blood" on Lowery's face "and he had a black eye...a logical inference would be that somebody beat him up. 

"When he was in the precinct he was fine, but when he left he was battered and bloody," Newsome said. 

The civil rights activist also said that Paterson police had already been "engaging in activity that has garnered the attention of a national law enforcement agency," referring to the FBI's investigation into misconduct within the department. 

"They're so bad that it's not even an internal investigation. No, it's the FBI," Newsome said. 

"These are not heroes. These are not those good cops that everybody talks about," he said of the Paterson police department. 

"We need to know why a man who was in perfectly good condition, but may have been experiencing some kind of mental health issue, wound up displaying physical signs of an assault," Newsome said. 

According to The Associated Press, three police officers involved in the Saturday incident were placed on administrative leave. 

Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale told the AP that after an autopsy is performed, "everything will come up and then we'll know where we stand and the answers will be given to you. 

"I want you to have those answers," he said. "Right or wrong, I want you to have those answers." The Paterson Police Department did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

GettyImages-1046270768 Demonstrators protest as they celebrate the verdict in the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke along Michigan Avenue on October 5, 2018, in Chicago. Protesters in Paterson, New Jersey, rallied on Tuesday to demand answers on how 27-year-old Jameek Lowery ended up dead in the hospital after he live streamed a visit to the Paterson Police Department. Joshua Lott/Getty

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