It was about 4 a.m. when 27-year-old Jameek Lowery walked into the Paterson police headquarters, foaming at the mouth and pleading frantically for help. Lowery had activated Facebook Live to record the confrontation, in which he seems terrified that someone is trying to kill him — at times even suspicious police officers in front of him. “Why are y’all trying to kill me? What did I do?” he asks, as he becomes increasingly distressed and begs the officers not to shoot.
At one point, Lowery seems to be hallucinating, saying, “I saw them by the wall. I see them! I see them! Yo, they’re trying to kill me.” An officer then shines his flashlight at the wall and calmly says, “Ain’t nobody there.” Lowery replies, “He’s right there! Walk over there.” Lowery says. “The police are trying to kill me. They think I’m a witness … they think I’m f***ing with the FBI.” He alternates between ranting, pleading for help and admitting, “I’m just paranoid, that’s it.”
About midway through the four-minute video, Lowery, who is sweating profusely, asks for water. Police officers are heard in the video denying Lowery’s desperate request, simply saying, “We’re not allowed to,” but offering to have him taken to the hospital, where he can get something to drink. The Facebook Live video ends with Lowery agreeing to be taken in an ambulance. “Yeah, I need some water. I’m dehydrated,” he says.
Hours later, he was admitted to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center with assault-related injuries, including a broken cheekbone and fractured eye socket, according to the Paterson Press. He was placed on life support and died within 48 hours. In his Facebook Live video, Lowery seemed to predict his own demise, crying, “If I’m dead by the next hour or two, they [police] did it. I didn’t touch them at all.”
Now, his family is demanding answers as to why Lowery was denied help by officers, and who delivered the beating that killed him.
Lowery’s mother, Patrice King, told New York news station PIX 11, “He asked for water. They deny him water. Why couldn’t you give him water? Why didn’t they help him? All I wanna know is why you didn’t help my son.” Police sources confirmed to PIX 11 that officers were just following protocol, as water “may harm the individual” if they don’t know what else he has ingested. Police sources say they suspect Lowery was under the influence of the drug ecstasy at the time of the incident, according to PIX 11, but this has not been confirmed.
But Lowery’s brother, Jamir King, raised an even more baffling question: How did Lowery die of severe head injuries when he didn’t appear to have any during filming? “His face wasn’t like that in the [Facebook Live] video,” King told the Paterson Press, noting that hours had transpired between the taping and Lowery’s recorded arrival at the hospital. “What happened during that time?”
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In a bizarre twist, Lowery can be heard on the video telling officers that he had already been to the hospital earlier in the evening and was kicked out. “They beat me up in the hospital,” he said.
St. Joseph’s University Medical Center confirmed Lowery’s death to Yahoo Lifestyle in a statement.
“Janeek Lowery was a patient at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center on Saturday, January 5, 2019, until his passing on Monday, January 7, 2019,” the hospital said. “In accordance with patient privacy laws, we cannot comment on the medical care he received. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Lowery’s family.”
In addition to the police department’s theory that Lowery was intoxicated, the man’s relatives say he lived with bipolar disorder. It’s unclear whether he was medicated for the mental illness. The family is awaiting the results of an autopsy to help get their questions answered, according to the Paterson Press.
Two officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative lead as the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office investigates the incident. Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to the Prosecutor’s Office and will update this post with new information about the case.
Although it’s unclear exactly what caused Lowery’s delusions, those close to the case believe he somehow thought he was part of a federal probe that led to the convictions of three Paterson cops and arrests of two others, according to the Paterson Press.
In the meantime, Mason Maher, president of the union that represents superior officers in the Paterson Police Department, told the Paterson Press he watched the video of the incident and feels, “From everything I’ve seen so far, the officers acted professionally and got him the help that he was in need of by calling for the ambulance.”
Paterson Mayor André Sayegh weighed in on the incident on Facebook, calling it “tragic” and “a very sad start to our week.” He said he had actually met Lowery the week prior and “had a great conversation” with him, inviting him to visit City Hall. He said he’ll be updating the public as results from the investigation materialize, and he is keeping in touch with Lowery’s family. “Let’s keep in mind that a mother has lost her son,” he said. “Please pray for the family of Jameek Lowery.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has also reached out to friends and loved ones of Lowery and will update this post when they reply.