Man who died after saying cops would kill him had meningitis, mayor says
PATERSON — Jameek Lowery had a suspected case meningitis when he went to Paterson police headquarters on Saturday morning, according to Mayor Andre Sayegh.
The mayor's office would not confirm reports that Lowery specifically had spinal meningitis but did urge anyone who was in contact with the 27-year-old before his death, including friends, family, medical personnel and police, to be tested for meningitis.
A cause of death has not been confirmed pending autopsy results as part of the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office investigation.
Chief of Staff Kathleen Long said that Sayegh met Lowery at the grand opening of American Fried Chicken on Dec. 29 and had a "friendly interaction." She said that Sayegh also invited Lowery to visit him in his office at City Hall.
Lowery walked into the city's police headquarters early Saturday morning and recorded live video in which he claimed police would kill him, then was physically and forcefully restrained when cops put him into an ambulance, according to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
By the time he arrived five to 12 minutes later at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, he was unresponsive. Lowery died on Monday.
The incident sparked two nights of protests in front of City Hall with accusations by community members that Lowery was beaten by police.
Spinal meningitis is an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord that spreads rapidly through the body. Without treatment, spinal meningitis can cause brain damage in hours and can be fatal within 24 hours.
Three police officers and two firefighters have started an anti-bacterial regimen because of their direct dealing with Lowery, unnamed law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York. Dozens of members of the St. Joseph's staff may also have been unknowingly exposed.
The sources said it appears some of Lowery's organs had shut down. It's also believed Lowery had drugs in his system, and that may have been a contributing factor. A reported injury to Lowery's eye socket may be related to another injury he suffered a year ago, according to law enforcement.
On Wednesday night, the second night of protests at City Hall, religious and community leaders addressed the crowd but cautioned that people still want answers about Lowery, according to a NorthJersey.com report.
One of those who addressed the crowd, Corey Lewis-Teague, is skeptical of the spinal meningitis report.
"Now, 'they' say he had meningitis ... The cover-up is worse than the crime. This is why I’ve said from the start that the family must have an INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR! Can’t y’all see what’s happening?! Anything to divert and derail a movement," Teague wrote on his Facebook page.
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