The family of legendary reggae artist Peter Tosh is filing a civil rights lawsuit and seeking a U.S. Department of Justice investigation after Tosh's son, 37-year-old Jawara McIntosh — himself a musician and marijuana legalization activist — was left in a coma after being beaten while in the custody of the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey four months ago.
According to McIntosh's family, the beating occurred on Feb. 21; the resulting brain injuries were so severe that he has been comatose ever since. He was first hospitalized at New Jersey's Hackensack Medical Center and has since been moved to a hospital in Massachusetts, where he resides.
McIntosh's family says that they learned of the beating when his mother, Melody Cunningham, received a call from the Hackensack hospital saying McIntosh needed a "life-saving medical procedure" after being attacked at the jail. Niambe McIntosh, Jawara's sister, tells NPR today that their mother then received a call from the jail's warden, saying that the incident involved another inmate.
Niambe McIntosh adds, "We have since, upon request, got an incident report that just didn't really give a lot of information, but it just said there was another inmate [involved]. There was very little detail as to what happened."
The family has announced that they are seeking to file a civil rights lawsuit against the county and the jail "for failing to protect Jawara while he was in its custody, or directly participating in this brutal beating." The family is being represented by attorney Jasmine Rand, who has in the past represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.