Under pressure from city and federal lawmakers, Baltimore Police Commissioner has asked the FBI to take the reigns on the investigation of the killing of Det. Sean Suiter.
Davis read a letter aloud Friday afternoon formally requesting the feds to intervene.
“I am growing increasingly uncomfortable that my homicide detectives do not know all of the facts known to the FBI or [United States Attorney’s Office] that could, if revealed to us, assist in furthering this murder investigation,” his letter says. “I respectfully request the FBI to investigate the murder of Detective Suiter.”
Davis said he actually decided to make the decision “several days ago,” but “out of respect to the Suiter family, out of respect to the BPD family, I waited until after after the funeral, and after we buried Sean.”
Almost exactly 24 hours before, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young and Councilman Brandon Scott penned a joint letter calling for Davis to let the FBI step in. Rep. Elijah Cummings had also voiced support for the move.
“An independently conducted investigation would be the quickest way to provide the public and those who loved Det. Suiter with the answers they rightly deserve,” Young and Scott asserted.
Police have been conducting their own probe for weeks into what happened on the night Suiter was shot dead in Harlem Park. The 18-year veteran police officer had been looking into an unsolved 2016 triple murder in the neighborhood when he approached a man “engaged in suspicious behaviors,” Davis previously said. A struggle followed in which Suiter was shot in the head with his own gun, police said. He died the following morning.
Davis and the U.S. Justice Department revealed details yesterday further complicating the case: Suiter was set up in 2010 to discover 28 grams of heroin planted by several of his fellow officers on two suspects directly after a deadly high-speed chase that ended near Gwynn Oak. The evidence was used to convict the two men, who have since been released and could soon have their convictions vacated.
One of the three officers said to have planted the drugs, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, is among a group of nine police officers indicted this year on federal racketeering charges for robbing suspects and civilians of money, drugs and guns to sell them at a profit, falsifying overtime and other misconduct. Jenkins was given two additional charges yesterday due to his alleged planting of evidence, and is awaiting trial in January.
Suiter was “was not involved in any way, shape or form in any criminal misconduct, whatsoever,” Davis said Thursday. However, most questionably, prosecutors divulged that he was scheduled to testify against Jenkins before a grand jury on Nov. 16, the day after he was killed.
Davis has insisted the information about Suiter’s involvement in the 2010 case was brand new to him on Thursday. “That makes me uncomfortable,” he said, explaining in part why he’s asked the FBI to launch its own investigation.
Responding to reporters, Davis said police haven’t discounted additional possibilities for how Suiter died, including a self-inflicted wound or “an unknown perpetrator” in addition to the man they had already been searching for. DNA evidence has not suggested the latter, but he said their findings aren’t conclusive at this point.
He also pointed out that federal agencies, including the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Agency, have been assisting police since the day Suiter died. Their involvement in handling evidence has been “important to the integrity of the investigation,” he said.
Despite moving to hand off the investigation to the FBI, the police commissioner nonetheless defended his department’s work.
“Baltimore homicide detectives have been heralded for many, many years as the most talented in this country. Television shows have been made about Baltimore homicide detectives,” he said. “This is, however, about who murdered Sean Suiter. How did it happen? What happened?”
Authorities are offering a reward of $215,000 for details leading the killer’s arrest and conviction.
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