What to Know
- The death of 27-year-old Jameek Lowery has been ruled a medical event, with officials saying he had a cardiac arrest after taking bath salts
- Lowery's death sparked outrage in Paterson after Lowery got to hospital with trauma he didn't have before getting in the ambulance
- The investigation found police did punch Lowery in the ambulance, but say he was striking and spitting on them and needed to be restrained
The death of 27-year-old Jameek Lowery -- who walked into a police station in New Jersey and wound up unresponsive while being transported by police to the hospital -- has been ruled a medical event by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
His death sparked outrage in the city of Paterson in January and prompted Mayor Andre Sayegh to promise the city would provide answers as to how Lowery died.
On Monday, more than seven months later, the prosecutor's office announced that its investigation had concluded Lowery's death was not caused by police force, but instead by ingestion of bath salts coupled with a pre-existing medical condition. It said the Medical Examiner concluded that the cause of his death was “Cardiac Arrest during Active Psychosis while Under the influence of Acute N-Ethyl Pentylone (Bath Salts).”
Sayegh expressed his condolences to the Lowery family Monday. "The conclusion of the investigation at this time does not bar the Passaic County’s Prosecutor’s Office or any other law enforcement agency from reviewing additional evidence that may arise in the future," he said.
Lowery first called 911 at around 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 5, saying he had taken ecstasy and was paranoid, according to a preliminary investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
EMS responded and took him to a local hospital, but Lowery became erratic there and left.
At around 3:40 a.m., Lowery again called 911, this time from a Wendy's restaurant near Broadway and Memorial Drive, saying people were trying to kill him, the prosecutor's office said. He walked into the Paterson Police headquarters nearby at 111 Broadway, appearing agitated.
While inside police headquarters, Lowery livestreamed to his Facebook page from inside the police station, shouting in an apparent fit of paranoia. He ranted, at times incoherently.
The officers maintained their distance while Lowery recorded on his cellphone, and attempted to calm him from afar. When he told them he was dehydrated and needed water, someone is heard telling him, "The hospital has water."
EMS arrived and an ambulance transported him to the hospital, a ride that took about 5 to 12 minutes, according to police and fire records. Sometime in that ride, he lost consciousness.
Information released Monday from the investigation reveals that Paterson police officers did punch Lowery several times in the ambulance. The findings say that Lowery was striking, kicking and spitting on the officers as he got 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."
When Lowery arrived at the hospital, he was unresponsive. Initially his loved ones were baffled, because hospital records didn't indicate any acute trauma, but his parents and friends said he ended up bloodied and bruised when they saw him at the hospital. He did not have those injuries in the Facebook video.
He was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 7.
His death sparked outrage and protests in Paterson, with calls growing for an investigation into how he wound up bloodied, bruised and unresponsive at the hospital.