Jameek Lowery, the man who died after begging for help at the Paterson police headquarters last year, was allegedly “choked” by police officers inside an ambulance en route to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, according to a lawsuit.
Shaquana D. Duncan, mother of Lowery’s young child, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday. Her suit says police officers dragged Lowery out of the Frank X. Graves Public Safety Complex, handcuffed his both arms to the stretcher and strapped his waist and legs down to get him inside the ambulance.
Inside, police had to use force to restrain Lowery, who was “physically combative” towards the officers.
“The officers forcibly restrained Decedent’s head and got on top of him holding down his waist with their own bodies. While doing so, Defendants used their hands to punch and strike Decedent about his body and face and choked him around his neck,” reads the 19-page lawsuit.
The lawsuit names police officers Michael Avila, Mucio Lucero, and Kyle Wanamaker. All three are sued in their official capacity and individually.
Avila allegedly straddled Lowery’s “waist and legs forcibly pinning and restraining him to the stretcher” as Wanamaker “stood over his head holding his head and shoulders down.” A paramedic placed a mask on Lowery’s face. One of the officers allegedly pulled the hood of Lowery’s sweatshirt over his face, says the lawsuit.
“During the transport to the hospital, Decedent’s airway was restricted and he was suffering traumatic injuries from being assaulted. Prior to arriving at the hospital, Decedent’s body went limp, he lost consciousness and stopped breathing,” according to the lawsuit.
Upon arrival at the hospital, nurses discovered Lowery did not have a pulse. He was taken out of the ambulance and into the emergency room. Medical staff were able to revive Lowery. He regained pulse, but remained in critical condition suffering from brain damage and organ failure, says the lawsuit
Lowery died on January 7, 2019.
The state medical examiner later determined Lowery died from an adverse reaction triggered by the ingestion of bath salts. Authorities said police use of force did not cause his death.
Lowery’s mother, Patrice King, has rejected the medical examiner’s finding. She has claimed her son was “murdered.”
Lowery’s death sparked multiple nights of protest in Paterson.
The series of event that ended with Lowery’s death began with him ingesting “recreational drugs,” says the lawsuit. He took bath salts, according to authorities.
Lowery called 911 and sought medical help at about 2:45 a.m. on January 5, 2019.
“I think I took too many e-pills, ecstasy pills,” Lowery told the dispatcher, according to recordings obtained by the Paterson Times soon after the incident took place. “I’m paranoid.”
An ambulance arrived at his residence on Godwin Avenue and took him to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
At 3 a.m., Lowery arrived at the emergency room. He was accompanied by a “female friend,” according to the lawsuit. He lawsuit does not identify the friend. He was checked by the medical staff at the hospital.
Lowery told doctor Joseph Affortunato he took recreation drugs and was feeling paranoid, says the lawsuit. He “exhibited visible signs of paranoia and strange behavior,” says the lawsuit.
Affortunato discharged him from the emergency room approximately 30 minutes after his arrival. The doctor personally escorted Lowery out of the emergency room, says the lawsuit.
At the waiting room lobby, Lowery continued his “strange behavior,” says the lawsuit.
“He proceeded to jump on furniture and make further commotions. Decedent refused to leave the hospital and engaged in a physical struggle with several hospital security staff when told he had to leave because he was discharged,” says the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Affortunato was informed of Lowery’s behavior, but refused to see him again or change his decision to discharge him from the hospital.
Affortunato and the hospital are named as a defendants in the lawsuit.
Security had to “forcibly escort” Lowery out of the lobby “against his will” into a taxicab, according to the lawsuit.
At 3:30 a.m., Lowery and his friend left the hospital parking lot in a taxicab. He later got out of the cab in middle of the street and walked towards the police headquarters.
At the police station, Lowery sought help. He also did a distressing Facebook Live, where he is seen sweating and stating people were trying to kill him.
Police dispatch called an ambulance to get him help.
Police officers Avila, Wanamaker, Lucero allegedly arrived at the police station while Lowery was at the lobby. Avila and Wanamaker grabbed Lowery from under his arms and dragged him out of the lobby to the ambulance, alleges the lawsuit.
None of the officers were charged with any wrongdoing in the case.
Duncan, mother of Lowery’s minor child, A.L., is seeking an unspecified amount in damages in the lawsuit.
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