A police dashboard camera video helped acquit a New Jersey man, who was wrongly accused and allegedly beaten by two Bloomfield police officers.
Marcus Jeter, 30, was arrested in a 2012 traffic stop and charged with eluding officers, resisting arrest and assault.
The incident began when cops responded to a domestic violence report at the home Jeter shares with his girlfriend. No charges were filed and Jeter left the home after police visited, WABC-TV reported.
The officers followed and pulled him over on the Garden State Parkway. Dashcam video shows Jeter stopping on the shoulder of the road.
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The two officers pulled out guns. Jeter says he was scared he’d be shot if he got out of the car.
One officer was pointing a pistol at the man while a second holds a shotgun on the other side.
A second video, of a backup officer responding from the other side of the highway, shows the police cruiser crossing the median and striking Jeter’s car. That incident was never mentioned in any police reports.
“The next thing I know, as he’s coming around the car, the glass gets busted and all the glass goes in my face,” Jeter told WABC. “My hands are up. As soon as he opens the door, one of the officers just reached in and punched me in the face. As he’s trying to take my seatbelt off, he’s elbowing me in my jaw. And I’m like ‘Ahhh!’ and he’s like ‘Stop trying to take my gun! Stop resisting arrest!’”
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“As soon as he say that, I’m thinking something’s going to go wrong.”
The officers continued to hit him, Jeter says, telling him stop resisting arrest. As they throw him in the back of the patrol car, another officer hits Jeter on the head.
“I was going to be doing jail,” Jeter told WABC of his arrest. “The first plea [offer] was 5 years.”
As soon as prosecutors saw the second tape, all charges against Jeter were dismissed.
Two Bloomfield officer, Orlando Trinidad and Sean Courter, both 33, have been indicted on charges of misconduct, tampering with public records, and false documents and false swearing, Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office told the New York Daily News. Trinidad also faces an aggravated assault charge. Both officers pleaded not guilty. The third officer retired after pleading guilty to tampering.
Bloomfield’s Mayor Michael Venezia said on his Facebook page Monday following the indictment of the two officers that he was “outraged” over “this police cover-up.”
“I am outraged by the police dashboard video and the fact that these charges were initially dismissed by our internal affairs division,” he said in the statement. “This behavior is unacceptable. I have contacted the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office to request an investigation of our police department’s internal affairs division.”
“I will demand the immediate suspension of any officer involved in this police cover-up, and fight to purge our department of any bad officers,” the mayor added.
In a letter to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, however, a lawyer for Trinidad called the Facebook post “bemusing and quizzical.”
"It may be beneficial to you if you reserve your 'outrage' until after this criminal trial is held,” attorney Patrick Toscano told the Star-Ledger. “It may also be sagacious if you did not abandon your municipal police officers so expeditiously, without knowing all of the underlying facts."