Newark Man Sentenced to Six Years for Spitting on Police Officer, Attacking His Uncle

Newark—Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II, announced today that Lateef Dennis, 40, of Newark was sentenced to six and a half years -- the maximum sentence -- on one count of aggravated assault on his uncle and one count of spitting on a police officer.

That sentence will run consecutive to the 18 months he received in Essex County for animal cruelty and another three years he received in a Union county case for third degree resisting arrest.

According to Assistant Prosecutor Jason Lesnevec, who successfully prosecuted the case for the state, on April 17, 2017 at approximately 1:30 a.m. Newark Police officers responded to a domestic violence incident occurring on the 700 block of South 11th Street in Newark. Officers arrived to discover an unconscious man, later known to be Dennis’ uncle, on the front lawn of the residence and observed Dennis repeatedly punching the victim in the face.

The victim was transported to the hospital where he remained for three days undergoing surgery and treatment for injuries he sustained during the attack. The victim’s lower jaw was broken on both sides. He had three broken ribs, a broken cheek bone, and contusions all over his face.

After officers handcuffed Dennis, he spit in one of the officer’s face. That officer was transported to the hospital to have the spit cleaned from his nostrils and eye.

On July 25, 2019 following a three-day trial, before the Honorable Michael Petrolle, J.S.C., Dennis was convicted by an Essex County jury of aggravated assault on his uncle and spitting on a police officer.

Prior to this case, in Essex County, Dennis was convicted on March 18, 2019 of cruelly for beating a pit bull. For that he was sentenced to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison. In Union County, he was convicted of third degree resisting arrested. He received three years in New Jersey State Prison.

Judge Petrolle sentenced Dennis to five years in New Jersey State Prison with two-and-a-half-year period of parole ineligibility for the third-degree aggravated assault. This will run consecutive to 18 months for throwing bodily fluids at a law enforcement officer. This makes a total of six and a half year with a two-and-a-half-year period of parole ineligibility.

“Justice was served today for both victims, the defendant’s uncle and the police officer that the defendant spit on. A consecutive sentence sends the clearest message, that although these crimes took place close in time, they were committed against two separate victims; thus, the defendant must serve two separate punishments,” said Assistant Prosecutor Lesnevec.