Tension remains high following death of Paterson man who had encounter with police

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PATERSON -

Tensions in Paterson have remained high more than a week after the death of Jameek Lowery.

The 27-year-old died Jan. 7, two days after he showed up at the Paterson Police Headquarters seeking help. He filmed himself on Facebook Live and told police that he was paranoid and thought someone was trying to kill him. Earlier that evening he called 911 and told the operator that he has taken too much ecstasy.

Paterson police officials admit that officers had to use some force to get Lowery to the hospital. But they say that he did not suffer any trauma.

Health officials say that Lowery had meningitis, but autopsy results have not yet been released to determine the cause of death.

Lowery’s family have accused the police department of police brutality and have held several rallies at Paterson City Hall and the Paterson Police Department demanding answers.

At a city council meeting Tuesday, Lowery’s mother said that she is seeking an independent autopsy for her son, separate from the city’s.

But on Wednesday – an altercation with police. Lowery’s cousin and sister were arrested and are facing charges like drug possession, obstruction and resisting arrest.

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City officials say that the officers were responding to drug activity in the area and then tried to keep the peace. The police chief is said to be reviewing how his officers responded.

But Lowery’s friends and family say that they are being harassed by police officers.

"They’re targeted. It’s very it’s very clear this is the way the community feels,” says Jasmine Manuel, Lowery’s friend.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake says that this case is the reason New Jersey needs to change its laws on investigating police. She is behind legislation that would take control from county prosecutors and put it in the hands of the state attorney general.

"My first reaction is severe condolences. My heart hurts for the family,” Timberlake says. "This is a cornerstone issue to communities of color all over. I urge [Gov. Phil Murphy] to sign this bill."

But police and state officials say that they are under duress too. A Paterson man allegedly threatened police officers on social media and was arrested with guns in his home.

The governor was supposed to hold a town hall event Wednesday at the Paterson Islamic Center, but postponed it until after Lowery’s funeral due to safety concerns.

Paterson Mayor Andrew Sayegh has scheduled a news conference Thursday to announce new initiatives on police and community relations.

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