The investigation into the murder of a Baltimore police detective has taken on a new layer of complexity with police reporting that the slain officer was scheduled to testify before a grand jury the next day—against allegedly corrupt cops.
Detective Sean Suiter, 43, and his partner were searching through the dangerous Harlem Park neighborhood of west Baltimore for a witness to an unsolved 2016 triple homicide on Nov. 15 when the pair spotted a man acting in a suspicious manner.
Suiter’s partner reported that Suiter approached a black man wearing a black jacket with a white stripe. What happened next is still unclear. Somehow Suiter and the suspect got into a struggle, and Suiter’s service weapon was fired at least three times.
Suiter was shot at very close range by his own gun. He died the next day.
Detective Sean Suiter latest:
He was scheduled to testify in police corruption trial the day after he was killed… He was shot w/his own gun…Call from his radio indicates struggle with killer. I’m live w/more @ 11. @wbaltv11 #wbal
— Kai Reed (@KaiWBAL) November 23, 2017
At a press conference on Nov. 22, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said that Detective Suiter made a radio call in which he can be heard struggling. Then gunshots can be heard. Footage from police officers’ body cameras show Suiter still had the radio in his hand when his body was found, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Commissioner Davis says the tape of the radio call is “unintelligible.” “We don’t know exactly what he said, but he was clearly in distress.”
Surveillance video shows Suiter’s partner ducking for cover when he heard the shots and calling for assistance. He appeared not to know where the shots came from.
“Upon the sound of gunfire, the partner sought cover across the street and immediately called 911. We know this because it is captured on private surveillance video that we have recovered,” Davis said.
Today.com has audio recording from the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) dispatcher saying, “We do not know where these shots came from. We have officers in bad locations. Let’s everybody take cover somewhere, OK?”
So far the Baltimore Police have no solid leads. A reward of $215,000 is offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest of Detective Suiter’s killer.
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) November 18, 2017
Impending Testimony Creates Conspiracy Suspicion
Rumors began flying across social media when it was revealed that Suiter was due to testify in a police corruption case on Nov. 16.
In course of his career w/BPD, Det Sean Suiter worked cases with 2 members of Gun Task Force…at least 25 cases, mostly drug cases
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) November 22, 2017
Martina Williams posted on the Baltimore Police Department Facebook page, “So he gets murdered the day before he was scheduled to give his testimony before the federal grand jury against fellow ex officers????”
Charmayne Allen agreed. “So he’s killed right before he testifies against other detectives who were indicted years ago…This definitely seems like he was set up”
Raymond Brice was even more blunt. “When homicide detectives start worrying about suspicious activity. They don’t even worry about that unless they going to serve a apprehension warrant.. cut it out! He got shot for snitching!” Brice posted on Facebook.
Commissioner Davis made it very clear that there was no evidence linking Suiter’s status as a federal witness to his murder.
“I am now aware of Detective Suiter’s pending federal grand jury testimony surrounding an incident that occurred several years ago with BPD police officers who are federally indicted in March of this year,” Davis said at a Nov. 22 press conference.
“Detective Suiter was not the target of any ongoing criminal investigation,” Davis added.
The Commissioner also addressed the conspiracy rumors at the press conference on the night of Nov. 22.
“The BPD and FBI do not possess any information that this incident … is part of any conspiracy,” Davis said.
“I understand the speculation that exists I understand the emotions that exist, and I understand the damage that that group of Baltimore police officers that were federally indicted back in March continues to do to the reputation of the Baltimore Police department,” Davis continued.
“The evidence refutes the notion that detective Suiter’s partner was anything but just that—his partner.
“Detective Suiter’s partner has been talking to the homicide detectives nonstop since this incident. You can imagine the trauma that he’s experiencing right now.”
“I understand the wild possibilities that go through people’s minds when we all want answers, I just am determined to keep following the evidence. There’s nothing that we won’t consider, there’s no path that we won’t go down,” Davis said at the press conference.
Suiter Had History With the Gun Trace Task Force
Suiter had worked numerous cases with members of the Gun Trace Task Force, a special unit created to get guns out of the hands of criminals. The task force was a key element in Commissioner Kevin Davis’ plan to fight crime in a city which has seen 300 murders three years in a row.
Latest: BPD Homicide Det. Sean Suiter was also federal witness against other cops. Killed by someone who fired Suiter's weapon. More⬇ pic.twitter.com/h69qHc7vN8
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) November 23, 2017
Eight members of the task force have been indicted on a variety of charges including racketeering, stealing cash and drugs, extortion, and filing false reports, among other charges. Former Baltimore police officer Eric Troy Snell, now a Philadelphia police officer, has been indicted for allegedly helping the eight Baltimore officers sell stolen drugs.
Four of the indicted officers have pleaded guilty and at least two are cooperating with police. The other four are scheduled for trial in January 2018.
The task force was dissolved in March when the first indictments were filed.
Detective Suiter worked at least 25 cases with three of the indicted officers between 2007 and 2010—Detective Maurice Ward, Detective Momodu Gondo, and Task Force Supervisor Sgt. Wayne Jenkins.
It is not known if Suiter’s grand jury testimony would have helped or hurt the indicted officers.
‘A Wonderful Detective, Husband, Father, and Friend’
Detective Sean Suiter was an 18-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department. He was promoted to Homicide Detective in 2015.
Before joining BPD, Suiter had served a stint in the military.
He was married and the father of five children.
“We remain dedicated and committed to finding the person who ended such a beautiful life, such a wonderful detective, husband, father, and friend,” Commissioner Davis told reporters after the shooting. “We will find the person responsible for this ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary loss of life.”
Detective Suiter’s daughter Damira has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help her mother to support the family.
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