NEWARK, NJ — Former Bloomfield Police Officer Sean Courter, 35, of Englishtown, was sentenced on Tuesday, Feb. 23, to five years, with a five-year period of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin.
In January, former Bloomfield Police Officer Orlando Trinidad, 34, of Bloomfield, was sentenced to a five-year prison term, with a five-year period of parole ineligibility. Both sentences are a result of an incident that occurred on June 7, 2012, on the Garden State Parkway. On that day, Marcus Jeter, 30, of Bloomfield, was arrested and charged with numerous offenses, including resisting arrest.
Jeter was facing five years in New Jersey state prison until a dash cam video revealed the officers had made false statements.
On Thursday, Nov. 5, Trinidad and Courter were convicted by an Essex County jury of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, official misconduct, tampering with public records, falsifying public records and false swearing.
The officers alleged in police reports that Jeter, the driver, resisted arrest and tried to grab Courter’s weapon.
A dash cam video released following an Open Public Records Act request made by Jeter’s lawyer later revealed the allegations were false, prompting the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office to drop the charges against Jeter in April of 2014 and open an investigation into the officers’ conduct. The video showed Jeter with his hands up in a surrender position.
Today, Courter was sentenced for his involvement in the crime. Trinidad, who struck Jeter as he was pulled from the car, was also charged with aggravated assault but the jury convicted him of the lesser offense of simple assault.
Another officer, Albert Sutterlin, was also charged. He resigned from the department and pleaded guilty to tampering with records and false swearing two years ago.
Assistant Prosecutor Berta Rodriguez, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Frantzou Simon, said, “This sentence ends an ordeal for Mr. Jeter who was unjustly charged with crimes he did not commit. Police officers have a special position of trust. When they violate that trust and expose innocent individuals to the possibility of criminal prosecution, they must be held accountable.’’