Bay Area Hip Hop staple Stephen “Zumbi” Gaines of Zion I unexpectedly passed away last August at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California. His death followed a bout with COVID-19, which many assumed led to his premature passing. But days later, The San Francisco Chronicle revealed Zumbi’s death was being investigated as a homicide, leading to justifiable confusion.
According to the article, Zumbi allegedly got into a “physical altercation” as he recovered from COVID-19. Lt. Melanie Turner said Berkeley police responded to calls at 5:16 a.m. local time from patients and staff at the hospital about a patient involved in a tussle with nurses and security officers, who reportedly had him pinned down on the ground.
Turner said upon arrival “officers started handcuffing the involved person and determined that he needed immediate medical assistance.” Police began lifesaving measures until Alta Bates staff were able to assist, but “unfortunately and sadly he was pronounced deceased on the scene.”
As the case drags on into its sixth month, Zumbi’s mother Carolyn Gaines has released a statement regarding her son’s suspicious death. The statement arrived via Instagram on Wednesday night (February 2) and reads as follows: “Stephen Gaines, best known as Zumbi of Zion I, was my son. These last six months of living his loss daily have been the most painful experience of my life. His one of a kind beauty lives on in his words and love of his sons which has made each of them amazing beings.
“I am dedicated to seeking justice for his killing. My son did not die from COVID. My son did not die from a heart attack. We are waiting for the Berkeley police to complete their homicide investigation. They say their delay is caused by not having a completed coroner’s report. I beg the officials to complete their official duties. I pray that as soon as the Alameda County District Attorney reviews the evidence that they will prosecute Alta Bates, Allied Universal and their employees for killing my beautiful son.”
The COVID-19 pandemic presumably has slowed the process to a snail’s pace, but Gaines is hoping for a resolution soon. She continued, “We ask for your consideration and understanding as this process moves forward.There will be a time for thoughtful, peaceful and considered action from the community. For now, we seek your respect, support and understanding as we grieve and seek answers.
“The family asks that you share information or concerns with our attorneys, Elizabeth Grossman and Lyn Agre, who are seeking justice with our blessing and on our behalf. They can be reached at 510.548.5106 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please know that as information becomes available, we will share the details as we get them.”
The Gaines family is convinced someone has the information needed to move forward. In a press release fired off shortly after Zumbi’s death, his family announced they hired attorneys Elizabeth Grossman of Law Offices of Elizabeth Grossman and Lyn Agre of Glenn Agre Bergman & Fuentes LLP to investigate the cause of death.
“We believe there are witnesses who know firsthand the facts leading to Stephen’s death,” Grossman said. “We urge anyone with information to reach out and share their knowledge confidentially with us here.”