Ten points explaining how HCPO A.P. Christina Krauthamer falsely prosecuted JCPD P.O. Denzel Suitt for an alleged $600 theft during a traffic spot.
The story might sound dull, but the injustice is real.
Based on the evidence presented, witness testimony, and perplexing verdict, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Officer Denzel Suitt was guilty until proven innocent.
This is part 4 of a multi-part story covering the State vs. Denzel Suitt – a black cop accused of stealing $600 during a stop of two men, Jermaine Palms and his god-brother Jonathan Davis, in Jersey City’s Bayside Park on March 25, 2018.
The entire trial, in chronological order, can be watched on YouTube and is approximately eight hours long. For those reading about Suitt’s case for the first time, this is what’s already been written:
- Part 1 presented the evidence, witnesses, and arguments made by the prosecution and defense during the February 2020 criminal trial – which was held in Hudson County Superior Court Judge John A. Young’s courtroom.
- Part 2 exposed how a deceptive statement about the jury’s guilty verdict, issued by Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, led to public misinformation.
- Part 3 analyzed the investigation conducted by Sgt. Jocelyn Roldan (Torres) of the JCPD Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) and presented to a jury by Asst. Prosecutor Christina Krauthamer of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO).
Building off of part 3, this story breaks down the false prosecution used to convict Suitt by focusing on the evidence not presented, key witnesses that never testified, and perplexing investigations.
1. Christina Krauthamer fails to deliver on opening statement promise; Kennyatta Brown no-shows
During opening statements, Krauthamer told jurors “you’ll hear from someone from my office” regarding the HCPO’s investigation of Suitt – which took place after JCPD IAU transferred Roldan’s investigation to the prosecutor’s office.
By closing arguments, no one from the HCPO testified about their office’s investigation of Suitt. Based on witness statements obtained by Real Garden State, one person that should’ve been testifying was Det. Judy Yoakim.
Another person that never testified during the trial was Palms’ ex-girlfriend, Kennyatta Brown, who gave a statement to Yoakim and A.P. Karyn Darish about the night of the alleged robbery. Krauthamer claimed the HCPO was unable to contact/locate Brown to testify.
Simply put – if Brown or Yoakim had testified, jurors would’ve likely heard a significantly different timeline of events than the one presented by Krauthamer.
2. Kennyatta Brown’s statement contradicts East Orange to Jersey City timeline presented by Christina Krauthamer
Palms testified that on the night of March 24, 2018, in the presence of Brown, he received $600 from his aunt in East Orange, NJ (whom he was residing with). After the money was exchanged, Brown & Palms travelled to Bidwell & Ocean Avenues in Jersey City, where Brown’s mother lived, so she could see her family before leaving for Upstate New York, according to Palms.
Additionally, Palms said Brown drove from East Orange to Jersey City, they arrived around midnight, and Brown went inside her mom’s home by herself. Palms claimed Brown allowed him to take the car to pick up Davis, near Boyd & West Side Avenues, so the god-brothers could spend time together before Palms & Brown departed around 4 AM. Listen to Palms’ East Orange to Jersey City timeline below (starts at 20:41 mark):
According to Brown’s statement to Yoakim and Darish, she picked up Davis (aka “Nut”) while her and Palms were traveling from East Orange to her mom’s home in Jersey City. As well, Brown had no plans of moving to Upstate New York with Palms, too, according to the transcript of her interview with the HCPO.
To be clear – Brown said she picked up Davis before arriving at her mom’s house; Palms claimed he picked up Davis after Brown went inside her mom’s house. Those two statements are a blatant contradiction and raise doubt about whether or not Palms ever drove to Boyd & West Side (because he was already with Davis).
3. Jermaine Palms was not authorized to take Kennyatta Brown’s vehicle
As previously noted, Palms claimed Brown allowed him to take the car to pick up Davis.
According to Brown, after arriving at her mother’s house, she parked the car in a community lot and left Palms & Davis in the vehicle with the keys. Palms & Davis were not authorized to leave the parking lot with her car, especially if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Brown told Darish and Yoakim “I wouldn’t even allowed it. I didn’t know that they was gonna leave the parking lot… if they’re doing anything, drinking or anything. You know better than to take it out of the parking lot,” according to the transcript of her statement.
Brown’s first-hand testimony has now contradicted Palms for the second time.
To be clear – Palms said Brown allowed him to take the car to pick up Davis; Brown said Palms & Davis were already together and not authorized to drive the car. Notably, Yoakim and Darish took statements from both Brown and Palms for the HCPO (with Sgt. Michael Signorile joining them for the Palms interview.)
4. Kennyatta Brown’s statement raises questions about promissory notes
Palms testified that he’s been unemployed since 2007, had a pending disability compensation claim, and at the time of the alleged theft was preparing to move to Upstate New York with Brown and his daughter.
The $600 was for a $750 security deposit on a Section 8 apartment, which Palms claimed he already paid $150 towards, per his testimony. Although he borrowed the money from his aunt, it was actually Brown who would pay the loan back because he was unemployed.
The $600 given to Palms was secured by “promissory notes” which were handwritten and not notarized. Palms presented investigators with two notes – one for $500 and another for $600 – that were supposedly signed by Brown. When questioned by Krauthamer, Palms testified that the first note was for $500, but that his aunt lost the note, so a second note was created for $600.
Despite both promissory notes being dated March 24, 2018, they were undoubtedly signed on different days. When cross-examined by Suitt’s attorney, Keith Hirschorn, Palms admitted he wasn’t sure who wrote the promissory notes, but claimed Brown signed both and he signed the second note (which was for $600).
When questioned by Darish, Brown contradicts Palms for the third time by stating she remembered signing one promissory note (not two). As well, Brown suggested the $500 note “look a little weird, a little forged.”
5. Kennyatta Brown was apparently a victim of theft by deception
Despite issues with the promissory notes, one thing was abundantly clear from testimony during the trial – only $500 of the $600 loan had to be paid back. That’s because Palms’ aunt, Diane Johnson, credited him $100 for performing household chores.
Nevertheless, Brown was forced to pay Johnson back $600. According to the transcript of her interview with Darish and Yoakim, Brown stated “I deeply remember that because I was still starting off in the job. I didn’t – um, my paychecks wasn’t as much as they are now… so that 600 kinda hurt my pockets.”
By paying back $600 instead of $500, it appears Brown was swindled out of $100 (and a victim of theft by deception by either Palms or Johnson).
6. Christina Krauthamer omission of Jermaine Palms domestic violence issues
During the beginning of his testimony, Palms admitted that he pleaded guilty and served time in state prison for various narcotics charges, eluding & aggravated assault of a police officer, and obstruction of justice.
As she finished going through Palms’ criminal record, Krauthamer asked the state’s star witness if he’d been arrested since 2010. He answered “no,” but that’s not entirely accurate.
In October 2015, Palms was charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a (Terroristic Threats – Threat of crime of violence) and N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9b (Contempt – Violate domestic violence restraining order), according to court records and police documents obtained by Real Garden State.
Palms was definitely charged with a crime, a warrant was issued for his arrest, but it’s not clear if he was ever technically arrested. Semantics aside, the case was actually transferred to the HCPO and disposed of in family court in May 2016.
The alleged DV victim in the case? It was Brown, according to an incident report written by JCPD P.O. Anthony Cancel on October 27, 2015.
The report claims Palms was bombarding Brown with phone calls. When she finally answered the phone, he allegedly stated to her that “he did not care about a restraining order that he will hurt her.”
Of note, Cancel “confirmed that a final restraining order was in place” at the time of the incident. A warrant was issued for Palms’ arrest after Judge Carlo Abad granted probable cause for “violating court order and also terroristic threats.”
7. Brown’s statement conflicts with Domino’s timeline
One of the main arguments made by Christina Krauthamer is that Palms first noticed money was missing prior to purchasing pizza at Domino’s, on Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City, around 1:45 AM on March 25, 2018 – within an hour after the alleged theft by Suitt in Bayside Park.
There’s one significant problem with that argument.
The Domino’s Pizza CCTV video is timestamped March 24, 2018, yet it’s clear any encounter between Suitt and Palms occurred on March 25, 2018. According to Krauthamer & Roldan, the only issue with the timestamp was that it was one hour behind – which means that Palms and Davis arrived at approximately 1:44 AM, not 12:44 AM.
However, the timestamp on the video appeared to be set in military time based on a change from 12:59 to 13:00 – which means the date is 1 PM on March 24, 2018. Based on it clearly being nighttime in the footage, that time would be inaccurate, too.
For Krauthamer’s timeline of events to be accurate, the video’s timestamp must have been thirteen hours behind instead of one hour behind.
According to Brown’s statement to Darish and Yoakim, she claimed Palms told her he went to Domino’s before Bayside Park. Although Brown didn’t have first-hand knowledge of which actually came first, she did mention going to Domino’s after Palms & Davis attempted to file a complaint at the JCPD South District.
Notably, neither Palms nor Davis ever testified that they went back to Domino’s with Brown after leaving the South District. That footage could’ve easily determined what the exact time was on the CCTV.
8. Missing video from The Dog House
As previously stated, Palms testified he drove to Boyd & West Side Avenues to pick up Davis after Brown went inside her mom’s home.
Once Davis was in the vehicle, the two purportedly went to Orient Avenue & Martin Luther King Drive to purchase alcohol from Columbia Tavern (aka The Dog House). Palms says he gave Davis $20 from his loose money (he had $100 separate from the $600 in wallet) for a half pint of E&J and a 12-ounce beer, but couldn’t recall if he was given any change back.
It’s interesting that, for all the footage obtained by Roldan, there was no video of Palms & Davis in or around The Dog House – where there’s multiple cameras (including Jersey City CCTV).
9. Transcript of Sgt. Roldan’s interview with Jermaine Palms raises questions about JCPD IAU CCTV timestamp
Although it largely went unnoticed, the timestamp from the JCPD IAU’s CCTV footage might have much more damning implications than the Domino’s CCTV footage.
During cross-examination by Hirschorn, Roldan testified that she spoke with Palms for less than a minute before their recorded interview. She also testified that no one from JCPD IAU spoke with Palms about his version of events prior to the interview. Listen to Sgt. Roldan’s recollection of interview with Jermaine Palms at 2:02 AM below (starts at 43:50 mark):
Curiously, the transcript of Roldan’s interview with Palms states that the interview started at 10:30 AM on March 29, 2018, yet the timestamp from JCPD IAU’s CCTV footage says it’s 9:51 AM during a part of the interview.
Notably, Daylight Savings Time in 2018 (to move clocks forward one hour) was March 11th – eighteen days before Palms’ interview with Roldan. Given all the other issues in Suitt’s case, it’s worth wondering whether it was incompetence or malfeasance on the part of JCPD IAU that their CCTV footage contradicted the transcript.
10. The Guilty Verdict
Despite being accused of stealing $600, a Hudson County jury found Suitt guilty of Theft by Unlawful Taking ($500 or less) and Official Misconduct (directly related to the theft) with a benefit not greater than $200.
It’s not clear whether the jury convicted Suitt of something other than stealing money, given the contradiction between the accusation and verdict, but he’s about to be sentenced to prison by Judge John A. Young. That’s because Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed legislation that would’ve ended mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes, including Official Misconduct.
Ultimately, if there’s one takeaway from Suitt’s guilty verdict, it’s that a black cop stands no chance against racist and woke cultures determined to convict them… Stay tuned for part 5.