Testimony provided by then-Sgt. Jocelyn Roldan (Torres) during the Denzel Suitt trial was false based on a retired cop’s sworn statement.
A retired Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officer’s sworn statement raises questions about the truthfulness of testimony provided by an Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) investigator to a Hudson County jury during the Denzel Suitt trial.
In part 3 of Real Garden State’s multi-part story analyzing the case against Suitt, a major issue raised was who exactly did Jermaine Palms and Jonathan Davis meet at the JCPD’s South District during the early morning hours of March 25, 2018, when they attempted to file a report claiming a police officer robbed Palms.
According to the trial testimony of then-Sgt. Jocelyn Roldan (Torres), who has since been promoted to lieutenant, the officer working as the desk assistant during that shift was Craig Kutiak. Roldan testified that Kutiak did not take a report from Davis and Palms, but couldn’t answer whether Kutiak himself turned them away from the South District. Listen to Roldan discuss Kutiak below (starts at 47:46 mark):
Real Garden State reported that it was unlikely Kutiak was at work when Davis & Palms entered the building due to an “unofficial” JCPD practice commonly known as The Flip or Early Blow.
In a legal matter unrelated to Suitt’s case, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney acknowledged The Flip/Early Blow and stated “at times, throughout the [JCPD], police officers were permitted to leave their tours early with permission of the commander of the district.”
Cowan Investigations, which conducted its own post-conviction inquiry after Suitt retained the private investigations firm, secured an interview with Kutiak that directly contradicted Roldan’s testimony.
In a sworn statement obtained by Real Garden State, Kutiak recalled being released from duty prior to the time Davis & Palms entered the South District on March 25, 2018. While being interviewed by former JCPD Chief Robert Cowan, who was assisted by retired Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) Capt. Brian Duval, Kutiak said he did not recall encountering the two men and did not learn of the theft allegations until days later.
Additionally, Kutiak denied that he was the officer who answered the phone when Davis called the South District at an unknown time. He also confirmed that no one from JCPD IAU ever contacted him about what happened on March 25, 2018.
In a report summarizing Kutiak’s statement, Cowan wrote that “competent investigative steps should have been sought to determine exactly who had been inside the South District” when Palms and Davis had entered to file their complaint.
Cowan’s report was critical of Roldan placing “all the blame for not taking a complaint” on Kutiak without mentioning the responsibilities of then-Lieutenant Pawel Wojtowicz – who served as the desk lieutenant during the shift in question.
“A separate Internal Affairs Investigation should have been initiated with regard to alleged misconduct that had occurred at the South District where police personnel allegedly refused to take a complaint of the alleged criminal misconduct of police officers,” Cowan wrote.
Police sources who’ve followed the Suitt case believe it’s likely that Roldan declined to investigate who was at the South District to intentionally avoid “theft of services” issues related to The Flip/Early Blow. Roldan had steadily worked the South District midnight patrol tour prior to joining IAU, which is confirmed by Kutiak’s statement.
More importantly, Kutiak’s statement indicates that Roldan deceived the jury by presenting false information about who was present at the South District when Davis & Palms arrived – raising questions about the truthfulness of her testimony and integrity of her investigation.
Of note, Suitt could be going to prison after Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez successfully appealed Superior Court Judge John A. Young’s sentence from June 16, 2021. Young’s decision followed public indignation about the case.
A new sentencing hearing for Suitt is set for January 27, 2023, in Young’s courtroom.