Jazz drummer Lawrence “Lo” Leathers was found dead Sunday in a Bronx, New York apartment building after a conflict involving his off-again-on-again girlfriend and another man.
The Grammy-winning musician got into it with 41-year-old Lisa Harris, police told ABC 7, when 28-year-old Sterling Aguilar put Leathers in a chokehold. Meanwhile, Harris repeatedly punched the 37-year-old in the head as she sat on his chest. Police sources told the news station Monday, June 3 that Harris, who also lived in the apartment, confessed to her part in the altercation.
Aguilar and Harris have had their charges upgraded from assault to first- and second-degree manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide, People magazine reported.
In the complaint obtained by the New York ABC station, it notes Aguilar held Leathers in a chokehold for 30 minutes. He gripped him so tight that he allegedly broke the musician’s neck. An investigation is ongoing as detectives are still determining what led to the violent altercation.
Leathers, who was due to perform Monday night at Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, was pronounced dead at the scene after his body was discovered in the second-floor stairwell of his apartment on June 2. The cause of death has been ruled to be homicidal asphyxia with compression of the neck, according to the medical examiner.
Lo was a fixture of the New York jazz scene, Pitchfork reported. Smalls was one of the venues where the swing drummer often performed after he started professionally drumming at 15-years-old. While attending The Juilliard School, Leathers met pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Paul Sikivie. They put together the Aaron Diehl Trio, a rhythm section, and ultimately became singer Cécile McLorin Salvant’s backing band.
Leathers’ drumming was featured on Salvant’s 2015 album “For One to Love” and her 2017 release “Dreams and Daggers,” both of which won Grammy Awards for best jazz vocal album.
On Instagram Monday, Salvant posted an ode to Leathers with a muted video of him playing the drums.
Meanwhile, those at Smalls have been more vocal about remembering the musician.
“I’m gonna love him forever, and I’m gonna miss him forever,” Carlos Abadie, Smalls general manager, told ABC 7. “Always be a hole in my heart without him around…And it made you feel good just to be around him. He knew how to make people feel good to create warmth. He was always just a warm soul to be around.”
Fellow drummer E.J. Strickland also spoke out saying in part on Instagram that Leathers “was one of the most musical, swingingest, honest drummers out here.”