After a five-week trial, an Essex County jury found Sean Courter, 35, of Englishtown, and Orlando Trinidad, 34, of Bloomfield, guilty of official misconduct, tampering with public records, falsifying public records and false swearing. Trinidad also was found guilty of simple assault. They face minimum prison sentences of five years.
A third police officer, Albert Sutterlin, pleaded guilty in October 2013 to falsifying and tampering with records. He resigned from the police department, according to the prosecutor's office.
The officers initially said the motorist, Marcus Jeter, tried to grab Courter's gun and struck Trinidad during a traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway in June 2012.
For almost a year, officials had to rely on dashboard video footage only from Courter's vehicle. Based on the initial police reports, Jeter was charged with eluding, resisting arrest, aggravated assault and attempting to disarm an officer. He later was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
But Jeter's lawyer requested video footage from a second camera, which was on the dashboard of another police vehicle that arrived on the scene. The footage clearly showed Jeter holding his hands in the air during the stop.
Justice was served here and we need a lot more of it. Officers should be held accountable for their actions. This is a perfect example of why every officer should be required to wear a body camera. Cameras don't lie.
You can't use the excuse of a non-functioning camera either. If it don't work, neither do you. Would they take to the street if their gun didn't work?
The level of quality we've allowed law enforcement to sink is disgraceful. Joe Friday on his worst day wouldn't like it either.
I really try not to overload the board with stories like these, but then again I don't feel like I'm being a good American if I sit back and just let it happen.