UPDATE: An autopsy found that a Paterson man died from a medical episode while in police custody that was triggered by bath salts that he'd ingested earlier combined with a previous condition, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said Tuesday.
The State of New Jersey Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office determined that use of the bath salts by 27-year-old Jameek Lowery, coupled with pre-existing medical conditions, "triggered an adverse physical reaction including multiple organ failure and cardiac arrest that ultimately led to his death," Valdes said.
"This reaction was occurring during the police and medical personnel’s interaction with Mr. Lowery and was independent of and unrelated to any force utilized.
Lowery “appeared agitated” when he came to police headquarters at 3:45 a.m. Jan. 5 after calling 911 twice, Valdes said.
The first time, at 2:45 a.m., he said “he had taken Ecstasy and was paranoid,” the prosecutor said.
EMS took him by ambulance to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, Valdes said, but he was soon "escorted from the hospital by security personnel after behaving erratically."
He got into a cab with an acquaintance to head home, she said.
When the cab driver stopped at a red light at the corner of Straight and Market Streets, Lowery climbed out the window and ran toward Paterson police headquarters, Valdes said.
Lowery called 911 at 3:42 a.m., " reporting that someone was trying to kill him in the area of Broadway and Memorial Drive," the prosecutor said.
"Approximately three minutes later, he appeared barefoot in the lobby of Paterson Police Headquarters continuing to report that someone was trying to kill him," she said.
SEE VIDEO ABOVE
"Much of the ensuing interaction between Mr. Lowery and Paterson Police Officers was broadcast by Mr. Lowery through the use of the Facebook Live application. During this video, Mr. Lowery made statements fearing that he would be killed by police. While interacting with officers in the lobby, he again called 911.
"In response to Mr. Lowery’s actions, Paterson police requested the Paterson Fire Department Emergency Medical Services respond to police headquarters to transport him to the hospital for treatment.
"According to interviews and written reports, police and fire personnel accompanied Mr. Lowery from the headquarters building to a waiting ambulance but Mr. Lowery became resistant upon entering the ambulance. "At that time, Mr. Lowery became physically combative by striking, kicking, and/or spitting on the Paterson Police Officers who were assisting him into the ambulance. "Paterson Police Officers attempted to use compliance holds to secure him to the gurney but the straps on the gurney initially failed to restrain Mr. Lowery. "Mr. Lowery continued to be physically combative towards the officers during the process of securing him to the gurney. Officers struck Mr. Lowery several times with their fists to gain control and secure his wrists. They were then able to handcuff him to the gurney, put the gurney straps in place, and physically restrain him for transport to the hospital.
"Shortly after 4 a.m., the ambulance left police headquarters, arriving at St. Joseph’s [Medical Center] within minutes without making intermediate stops. Upon arrival at the hospital, he lost consciousness and required resuscitation by medical personnel at the hospital.'
Family members said Lowery had a broken cheekbone, fractured eye socket and other injuries after being admitted to St. Joe's.
Lowery never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Jan. 7.
Valdes emphasized that "the timing of Mr. Lowery’s death is an indication of the conclusion of this reaction and not a result of any action by the police or fire department personnel. The examination did not identify any recent facial or bodily fractures."
She said that the investigation into the use of force "is now concluded and there will be no criminal charges sought against any police officer or firefighter involved in this incident at this time."
At the same time, she noted that it "does not bar the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office or any other law enforcement agency from reviewing additional evidence that may arise in the future. This matter will now be referred to determine if any administrative action or training should be undertaken as a result of the manner in which this incident was handled."
During the Facebook Live transmission, Lowery tells the officers that “they beat me up in the hospital” and threw him out.
Someone was trying to kill him, he says in a panic.
“Why are y’all trying to kill me? What did I do?” he asks, getting more agitated while begging the officers not to shoot him.
“I saw them by the wall. I see them! I see them! Yo, they’re trying to kill me,” he says at one point.
“Ain’t nobody there,” says an officer who shines a flashlight on the wall.
“Ain’t nobody there.” Lowery says. “He’s right there! Walk over there
“The police are trying to kill me. They think I’m a witness,” he says. “They think I’m f*****g with the FBI….“I’m just paranoid. That’s it.”
At another point, Lowery begs for water.
The officers tell him they’re “not allowed to,” then offer to have him taken to the hospital.
“Yeah, I need some water,” ending the Facebook Live video. “I’m dehydrated.”
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