In the nearly four months since former Bloomfield Police Officer Sean Courter was placed into custody after his conviction on official misconduct and related charges for submitting false police reports about a 2012 arrest, his wife, Kristina, on Tuesday said she has seen dramatic changes in their three children.

Their 7-year-old daughter no longer sings in the shower like she used to, Kristina Courter said. Their 4-year-old daughter cries for her father at night, and their 9-year-old son wants to be alone in his room, she said.

Police Dashcam video showed the aggressive arrest of the motorist, but not any of the claims police listed in their reports.

Ex-Bloomfield cop sentenced to 5 years for official misconduct Former Bloomfield Police Officer Sean Courter, 35, of Englishtown, is sentenced before Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin after he was convicted by a jury on Nov. 5 of official misconduct and related charges in connection with a 2012 arrest. Courter was sentenced in Newark. February 23, 2016. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

"Emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, we are at a loss due to Sean being gone," said Kristina Courter, adding that "having Sean gone has felt like a death in the family.

Standing in a Newark courtroom, Kristina Courter pointed to the impact on the children and the family's financial struggles as she implored Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin to show leniency in sentencing her husband.

As she spoke, Sean Courter sat a few feet away, crying in his jail uniform. Courter later stood up and also asked for the least possible sentence.

"I love my children more than anything in the world and I know they need me," Courter told Ravin.

But the judge sentenced Courter to a five-year state prison term with a five-year period of parole ineligibility, which represents the mandatory minimum sentence required under state law for the official misconduct charge against him. Courter will receive credit for 110 days of time served.

Ravin acknowledged the difficult circumstances facing Courter's family – referring to them as "gut-wrenching" – but said they don't rise to the level of "extraordinary" circumstances needed for a lesser sentence, and he declined to waive the requirement for the mandatory sentence on the official misconduct charge.

 

Cops found guilty of official misconduct for false police reports

Cops found guilty of official misconduct for false police reports

Bloomfield Police Officers Sean Courter and Orlando Trinidad were convicted of making false statements in police reports about a 2012 arrest

 

Courter, 35, of Englishtown, and his co-defendant, former Bloomfield Police Officer Orlando Trinidad, were convicted by a jury on Nov. 5 of making false statements in police reports about the June 7, 2012 arrest of Bloomfield resident Marcus Jeter on the Garden State Parkway.

After reviewing police dashboard videos — including footage of Jeter with his hands raised inside his vehicle — jurors found that the officers' reports falsely claimed Jeter tried to grab Courter's gun while Courter was removing Jeter from the vehicle, and that Jeter struck Trinidad.

Following the guilty verdict, Ravin revoked the officers' bails and remanded them to the Essex County Correctional Facility.

Trinidad, 35, formerly of Bloomfield, was sentenced on Jan. 22 to five years in state prison. He also must serve the entire sentence without an opportunity to be released on parole, and he will receive credit for 78 days of time served.

During Tuesday's hearing, Jeter said he felt sorry for Courter's family and friends, but said "they weren't the ones there that night."

Former Bloomfield cop sentenced to 5 years for official misconductMarcus Jeter, the victim, addresses the judge. Former Bloomfield Police Officer Sean Courter, 35, of Englishtown, is sentenced before Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin after he was convicted by a jury on Nov. 5 of official misconduct and related charges in connection with a 2012 arrest. Courter was sentenced in Newark. February 23, 2016 (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)  

Jeter noted how he was facing a possible prison sentence himself before his charges were ultimately dismissed, and said Courter broke his oath as a police officer to tell the truth.

"I'm not saying that he's not a good guy," Jeter said. "I'm just saying that in a situation like this where he has an obligation, a moral obligation to tell the truth, he chose not to."

Jeter also is pursuing a lawsuit against Bloomfield, Courter, Trinidad and other defendants in regard to the incident.

The incident occurred after Courter and then-Bloomfield Police Officer Albert Sutterlin responded to a domestic-related call at Jeter's Bloomfield home. His girlfriend's sister called 911 after Jeter threw the girlfriend's cell phone down a staircase during a verbal dispute.

After the officers arrived, Jeter left the residence. Courter has claimed Jeter was drunk and fled after he had ordered him to stop, but Jeter has said he was not drunk and that Courter indicated he could leave the residence.

Courter later stopped Jeter on the Parkway, followed by Sutterlin, and the officers approached Jeter's vehicle with their guns drawn and ordered him to get out. Trinidad arrived at the scene and struck the front of Jeter's car with his patrol vehicle.

Once Courter received approval from a supervisor, he broke the driver's side window and removed Jeter from the vehicle. Courter and Trinidad later claimed in their police reports that Jeter tried to disarm Courter and that he struck Trinidad.

Jeter was charged with eluding, attempting to disarm a police officer, resisting arrest and aggravated assault.

When Jeter's case was still pending, prosecutors only had the dashboard video from Courter's patrol vehicle. Jeter's attorney later obtained the dashboard video from Trinidad's patrol vehicle through an open public records request made with the Bloomfield Police Department.

 
Dashboard video raises question of police action, prosecutor says Two Bloomfield police officers have been indicted on conspiracy and misconduct charges after a dashboard video from a police cruiser raised doubts about the officers' account of an arrest they made, according to Essex County prosecutors.

After reviewing that second dashboard video, prosecutors determined the video was inconsistent with the officers' police reports. The charges against Jeter were then dropped in April 2013 and Courter and Trinidad were indicted in January 2014.

Courter and Trinidad, who had been suspended without pay, ultimately lost their jobs as a result of their convictions.

Sutterlin, who retired in May 2013, pleaded guilty in October 2013 to falsifying or tampering with records. After testifying at the officers' trial, Sutterlin was later sentenced to two years of probation.

Sutterlin testified he included information in his police reports that Jeter tried to grab Courter's gun and that he struck Trinidad, even though Sutterlin had not witnessed those events. He said he received those details from Courter and Trinidad when he consulted with them about the sequence of events.

In arguing for a lesser sentence for Courter, his attorney, Charles Clark, on Tuesday noted how Courter has received commendations for his exemplary work as a police officer. Clark referred to the incident involving Jeter as an "aberrational event" in Courter's law enforcement career.

Saying Courter "saved lives as a police officer," Clark referred to cases where Courter evacuated people during a fire and prevented a suicidal man from jumping off a fire escape with a rope tied around his neck.

"He's led an extraordinary life as a police officer," Clark told the judge.

But referring to the crimes against Jeter, Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Berta Rodriguez said Courter's actions show "a lack of respect for Marcus Jeter and the citizens of Bloomfield and Essex County, a lack of respect for his position as a law enforcement officer."

"In addition, this defendant took advantage of his position of trust as a law enforcement officer when he committed the offenses," said Rodriguez, who tried the case with Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Frantzou Simon.

Bill Wichert may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @BillWichertNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices
11 Comments
This was such a miscarriage against Mr. Jeter. He would be in prison based on lies that flowed so easily from these thugs. Think about his fear of losing his lifestyle and family ties while imprisoned for five years for something he didn't do. These cops are guilty and deserve everyday they have to serve. They didn't care about Mr. Jeter being innocent. I'm sure they have ruined the lives of other innocent citizens because they had no problem doing this to Mr. Jeter. I feel for his kids, but they have a lying thug for a father. Amazingly he asked for leniency when he failed to show Mr. Jeter any kind of humanity. I'm appalled at his audacity to ask for leniency by also using his wife and kids. What if Mr. Jeter had kids? I applaud the judge for giving them the five years Mr. Jeter was facing, and the supervising DA who dropped tge charges against Mr. Jeter.
by Alice Burgess February 9, 2022 at 02:05 PM
No where did I notice any mention of the severity of the beating nor the life threatening situation these cops put their victim into. Much less the 2 year legal ordeal that he suffered where the DA offered him 5 years to plead guilty of these false charges. I feel bad for the cops families but they are simply more victims of the lies of these (now X) cops. Instead of crying and pleading for leniency, a sincere apology might have been more appropriate. Self pity instead of remorse for their victim speaks volumes about these criminal X cops. 5 years is rather poetic as well as ironic.
by John K September 24, 2021 at 01:15 AM
Oh BOO HOO!! The kids and wife have it soooooo hard now. These thugs shoulda been thinking about that when they did these things to this innocent man. They got off easy and this "tough guy" pig is gonna sit and court and cry? HE CRIED!?!? Big tough guy now, huh? How many people are sitting in prison right now because of this Blue Line Murder gang piece of human garbage? I bet they and their kids cried too and THEY are the ones I feel bad for. This slimy turd and his slimy turd buddies can rot for all I care. Just thinking of them spending 5 years in a place surrounded by people who hate them without their precious gun and radio puts a BIG smile on my face! I'm gonna sleep better tonight knowing that CRIMINALS LIKE THESE have been taken off the streets.
by Taxpayer June 22, 2021 at 07:12 PM
It’s so typical that the pigs wife talks about how much of a victim she and her family is. I’m sorry but you and your kids and their suffering is irrelevant compared to what Jeter went through and your POS husband deserves to get assaulted every day in jail and I hope your kids know that he deserves every bit of it and you need to teach them that their daddy is a horrible person and they should be glad he’s not there to poison their lives.
by Scott April 21, 2021 at 01:32 PM
These cops have got some nerve complaining about being away from their family when they tried to falsely send an innocent man to prison for 5 years!!!! They didn't give a shit about Mr. Jeter being taken away from HIS family, and unlike these cops, Mr. Jeter didn't do ANYTHING to deserve it. If this cop's family is screwed now, they should be blaming the cop who chose to lie and frame an innocent man. Sean Courtier did this to his own family when he chose to lie!!!!
by Jack January 1, 2021 at 03:25 AM
I don’t feel safe driving in the US because you can be attacked and framed by police and have your life ruined with a police record when really a fraudulent ticket or arrest followed by a fraudulent report were the motive all along. There is a lot of unethical and criminal behavior in the police and justice system.
by Normal driver December 24, 2020 at 10:23 AM
Five years in prison may seem harsh until you face the fact that Jeter, a totally innocent man very nearly went to prison. Did the cops ever explain why they did what they did? Taking away cops weapons is about the dumbest thing I've heard. No same individual would take that job, put on a uniform with nothing but a taser. It would be suicidal.
by Alph1six November 3, 2020 at 01:06 PM
So one of his daughters doesn’t sing in the shower anymore. The other cries for his daddy at night and their son stays locked up in his room? Tragic. Just tragic. How will those kids ever recover? Better yet, who cares? Hey Mrs. Courter, the sadness and depression you say your kids are experiencing....they can thank their daddy for that. No one forced daddy to do what he did. Do you think Mr. Jeter was probably suffering from extreme depression when he was looking at 20 years in prison because your husband lied? I’m sorry about your kids. I have a daughter, so I know the love you have for them, but personally, I feel that me, my daughter, pretty much everyone in my family is safer with your husband locked up. I know the people of your community are safer. But just keep in mind when you’re feeling sad and having a bad day because your husband is in prison....just remember....you can blame your husband.
by Melissa July 19, 2020 at 03:21 AM
All dirty cops should rot in the same hole as the people they put in that hole. No protection for them. They let that 3rd scumbag retire so he is sitting on his a** relaxing after years of corruption, only getting probation. The system is a game, it is rigged and they take care of their own.
by Sue Madre June 21, 2020 at 10:53 PM
If this lawyer had not requested the dash cam through his public records request, Jeter would be in prison right now and if it went to trial with the rear video they claimed was the only video available, his sentence may have been far longer than five years for doing absolutely nothing wrong. The officers had no concern about that and would have lived their daily lives loving their children and meeting their dreams without batting a single eyelash for putting this man behind bars and enjoying their abuse of power. The prosecutor who lied about not having the dash cam AND the internal affairs investigator who did not study the dash cam or also lied should be held accountable. Thank goodness for Jeter’s perseverance he probably saved a lot of other innocent people from going to prison at the hands of these officers. So proud of the judicial system in this case. Even prouder of the lawyer who took the extra step to obtain the video on his own!
by Happysar June 2, 2020 at 11:59 PM
These officers make me sick. It's astounding that grown men & women are behaving like this in police departments all over the country. I say we take away some of their power. Most should only have tasers while there should be groups of highly trained individuals (swat) who can come at a moments notice and use deadly weapons. Think about the poor 26 yr old boy in the La Quinta down in Texas earlier this year...I've forgotten his name but it's just sickening that the officer was acquitted of those charges...He murdered that boy. But I digress. Things need to change.
by John Bloom September 27, 2018 at 02:41 AM
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