Police shooting incident that sparked KIYC investigation ends in plea agreement
A police shooting incident that sparked a Kane In Your Corner investigation has ended in a plea agreement.
Jeffrey Sutton, who originally faced six charges, including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and unlawful possession of a weapon, will plead guilty to a single count of eluding police.
Bloomfield police shot and wounded Sutton during a traffic stop in November 2020. An Essex County grand jury ruled the shooting justified. But a Kane In Your Corner investigation found police reports were grossly inaccurate. They falsely accused Sutton of intentionally driving into officers, when cellphone video proved he never struck anyone.
After the report aired in June 2021, Bloomfield police admitted the original reports were inaccurate but insisted the aggravated assault and weapons charges were still appropriate.
Michael Ashley, Sutton’s attorney, says the plea deal “means to us that their case wasn't strong. There was no evidence that he ever hit any officer or reasonably put any officer in danger."
The plea agreement is also raising new questions about whether Bloomfield police have ever told the full story about the shooting of Jeffrey Sutton. Among the documents Ashley received during plea negotiations was a Bloomfield police report, which indicates seven different officers at the scene of the shooting wrote statements describing the incident. Ashley says none of those statements were provided to him during discovery, as required by law.
Ashley has filed a motion asking the court to compel the prosecutor to release those police reports, saying he wants the judge to review them prior to sentencing Sutton on his guilty plea.
“Each of these statements were provided to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office within one week of the incident, and notably, prior to any shift or change in the police narrative of what happened,” Ashley says. “We don't know one way or the other whether these statements represent that Mr. Sutton struck officers, but it's obviously an important question.”
Katherine Carter, public information officer for the Essex County prosecutor, says: “We received the request from the defense for additional discovery on Monday. We are reviewing it and will respond in a timely manner.”
Ashley also says he believes the Kane In Your Corner investigation played a crucial role in the more serious charges against his client being dropped.
“I cannot overstate how critical your reporting and public scrutiny was to the events that transpired,” he says. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant. And once the world had an opportunity to actually see those videos with their own eyes, and see that Mr. Sutton didn't, in fact, hit anyone, the question had to be addressed.”
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