Town settles BPD lawsuit with victim for $1.6 million: dashcam reveals the truth

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Township Administrator Matthew Watkins has confirmed that a $1.6 million lawsuit settlement has been reached between all parties and a motorist involved in a 2012 traffic stop with Bloomfield police officers.

The incident involved Bloomfield resident Marcus Jeter who, according to court papers, was punched and taken from his car on the Garden State Parkway, thrown to the ground and arrested. The BPD officers involved in the altercation were Sean Courter, Orlando Trinidad, and Albert Sutterlin.

Jeter was charged with eluding, attempting to disarm an officer, aggravated assault and resisting arrest. He faced five years in prison until a previously undisclosed BPD “dashcam” recording exonerated him of all charges.

In November 2015, 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. They were sentenced to five years in prison. Sutterlin resigned from the department and pleaded guilty to tampering with records and false swearing.

The incident, which received widespread media attention at the time, occurred June 7, 2012, following a “heated exchange” between Jeter and his girlfriend at her home.

The police had been summoned by the girlfriend’s 9-1-1 call and Courter and Sutterlin subsequently arrived. After being questioned, Jeter was allowed to leave and he drove off. But he was followed by Courter and Sutterlin who put on their flashing lights and Jeter was pulled over on the Parkway. Trinidad arrived on the scene after his patrol car crossed the Parkway median and crashed into Jeter’s car, as shown on “dashcam” footage. The footage also recorded Trinidad punching Jeter.

This past Tuesday, July 10, in an email to this newspaper, Jeter’s attorney, Tracey Hinson, wrote that her client was happy to put this unfortunate incident behind him.

“While justice was served in this case,” she said, “there are countless others where victims of police misconduct are left without a remedy. This case is significant because it signifies no one is above the law.”

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