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Anti-violence organization demanding justice after police fatally shoot an employee in distress

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(NEW YORK) — A violence prevention organization is demanding answers after one of its employees was fatally shot by police.


The Paterson Healing Collective was joined by the family of Najee Seabrooks at a vigil on Tuesday in Paterson, New Jersey, to remember Seabrooks and his impact on the community, calling his death an “injustice” in a statement to ABC News.

“The pain of this tragedy is magnified because Najee dedicated his life to reducing gun violence in Paterson and worked every day as a high-risk violence interventionist alongside his colleagues at the Paterson Healing Collective,” the organization said in a statement.

The Paterson Police Department responded to a 911 call on Friday of a person in distress, later identified as Seabrooks, 31, who had barricaded himself inside a bathroom, according to the New Jersey State Attorney’s Office.

According to the state’s attorney general, Matthew J. Platkin, both crisis negotiation and emergency response teams were sent to the scene, where nonlethal force against Seabrooks was used.

The AG’s office said that two officers from the Paterson Police Department’s emergency response team responded with lethal force when they shot and killed Seabrooks.

The state attorney’s office has identified the two officers who fatally shot Seabrooks as Anzore Tsay and Jose Hernandez.

The Paterson Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

“Najee’s death is one more senseless violent act that underscores how critically important it is to have community-based first responders, like Paterson Healing Collective, who are trained in de-escalation and community crisis response in our neighborhoods,” Paterson Healing Collective said in a statement.

The Paterson Healing Collective, along with Seabrook’s family, is demanding that Passaic County prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Public Safety Director Gerald Speziale resign.

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Activist Lawrence Hamm, 69, with People’s Organization for Progress, who attended Tuesday’s vigil, claimed that the Paterson Police Department has a history of using excessive force and should be investigated by the Department of Justice.

Hamm added that Seabrook, who’s Black, would be alive if he was of a different race.

“It is my personal belief had Najee been white, he’d be alive today,” Hamm told ABC News.

The Paterson Healing Collective has also called for the release of body camera footage of the incident, for the officers involved in the shooting to be placed on administrative leave, and the creation of a non-carceral crisis response team and a civilian complaint review board that could have “investigatory and subpoena power.”

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