ACLU of New Jersey Executive Director Amol Sinha today released the following statement following the release of body camera footage from the fatal police shooting of Najee Seabrooks, a staff member of violence intervention group Paterson Healing Collective:
“First, we wish to extend our condolences to Mr. Seabrooks' family who are suffering tremendous pain while grieving this tragic loss in the public eye. Several hours of videos and audio recordings of 911 calls were released today. It is traumatizing and difficult to witness.
“The disturbing videos put out today reinforce a reality: deep investment in non-law enforcement first responses to mental health calls is an urgent and life-saving need. Several members of the Paterson Healing Collective were on the scene and pleaded with the police to let them intervene, but their requests were repeatedly denied. Instead, Mr. Seabrooks was shot and killed. We must make every effort to prevent the unnecessary escalation that happens far too often when police take the lead on these calls for help – it will save lives.
“We continue to demand transformation of policing wholesale. It bears repeating – our legislature must take steps to allow for civilian complaint review boards with subpoena power, facilitate public disclosure of all police disciplinary history, and end qualified immunity. And we must examine whether armed police officers must be the only response to everything, when successful alternative solutions exist.
“We say his name and stand with the family of Najee Seabrooks. We are unwavering in our push for changes in policing policy and practice that need to happen before we lose more community members.”