Jawara McIntosh, the son of beloved reggae artist and marijuana activist Peter Tosh has been in a coma for the past four months. The 37-year-old’s family says the artist and father has been hospitalized ever since suffering a sever beating while behind bars on February 21. It is still unclear if he was attacked by another inmate or by officers of the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, where he was two months in to a six-month sentence for marijuana possession. McIntosh’s mother, Niambe McIntosh, said the jail warden told her the beating involved another inmate.
McIntosh was a musician like his father, performing under the stage name Tosh1. He has four kids and is an open advocate and practicing Rastafarian, a religion that uses cannabis as a sacred herb. He had no prior charges before his possession arrest, which occurred in 2013. McIntosh pleaded guilty after police found 65 pounds of marijuana in a rental car McIntosh was driving.
McIntosh’s legendary father performed with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer in the seminal 1970’s reggae group The Wailers. Tosh wrote their iconic marijuana legalization theme “Legalize It.”
Attorney Jasmine Rand, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown in past cases, will lead a civil case against the state “for failing to protect Jawara while he was in its custody, or directly participating in this brutal beating.” They will also pursue the release of all information and an outside investigation by the federal Department of Justice.
McIntosh’s mother is still searching for answers. “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.” She did not learn of her son’s condition from the jail until after being contacted by Hackensack University Medical in February. Her son is currently being treated in his hometown of Boston.
McIntosh’s family said in a statement that he is “presently unable to speak or use any form of communication; nor is he able to move with intent.”
“The way in which he was beaten appears to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment that he suffered while he was incarcerated. We want more information and physical evidence,” Rand said. “We want Bergen County to provide additional evidence about how he was beaten so brutally and so violently,” she added, saying the family has not received any evidence other than the incident report they received from the jail.