When Jameek Lowery began filming inside a New Jersey police station, he felt panic and fear. While waiting for an ambulance, he told the officers that he was paranoid and insisted they were trying to kill him.
Two videos that he aired live on Facebook show a frantic 27-year-old Lowery asking for help from viewers and asking for help from police in Paterson, New Jersey. Then he turned the camera towards himself.
"Ma, I'm sorry," he said. "They're going to do this to me, they're going to kill your baby."
About 10 minutes later, Mr. Lowery, father of three children, did not react. Two days after that, he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
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The Passaic County prosecutor is now investigating Mr. Lowery's death, while protesters continue to press for an explanation of what happened during the time he was in transit from the police station to the hospital.
"We plan to continue and increase our actions until we get justice," said Zellie Thomas, 34, a teacher and community organizer at Paterson.
While officials held a public meeting about Mr. Lowery's death in Paterson town hall earlier this week, a demonstration abroad became chaotic, and participants reported on social media that the police used pepper spray on the streets. protesters
Mr. Lowery called 911 for the first time in the early hours of Saturday morning. He told the dispatchers that he had taken ecstasy and was paranoid, according to the Passaic County prosecutor's office. An ambulance took him to a nearby hospital, but he left "shortly after becoming erratic," the prosecutor's office said.
Then, around 3.45 a.m., Mr. Lowery called 911 again and said that people were trying to kill him. After making that call, he entered the Paterson police headquarters for help. The officers asked for an ambulance.
While he waited, he started recording. In the images on Facebook, the officers kept their distance while Lowery repeated that he thought they were trying to kill him. While filming, Mr. Lowery told the officers he would not hurt them.
"I'm fine," he said. "I'm paranoid."
"You have to breathe", answered one of them.
Throughout the videos, which lasted more than five minutes, the officers responded by telling Lowery that they did not want to kill him.
Mr. Lowery is repeatedly heard asking for water, but officers are told they "are not authorized" to give him anything; an officer said he would get water in the ambulance or in the hospital.
He seemed to be sweating profusely, his lips cracked. "It's okay," he told the officers just before the tape ended, "go ahead and kill me."
The mayor of Paterson, Andre Sayegh, said in a statement that Lowery walked to the ambulance on his own. The prosecutor's office said that Lowery had to be restrained during the one-mile trip and that the officers used "physical force and compliance to secure him".
Officials said they are waiting for the toxicology and autopsy reports from the coroner's office, and that the cause of death had not been determined.
On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters gathered at a march outside City Hall to draw attention to Mr. Lowery's death, according to Mr. Thomas.
But the protesters headed for the police station, Thomas said, and at least one officer used pepper spray in the crowd.
Paterson police director Jerry Speziale and his police chief Troy Oswald did not respond immediately to requests for comment. A spokesman for Mr. Sayegh's office declined to comment.
The New York Times