Thanksgiving eve featured a couple bombshells from the Baltimore Police Department, including the news that Det. Sean Suiter was due to testify in a federal case involving indicted Baltimore police officers one day after he was murdered in Harlem Park.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at a Wednesday night news conference that Suiter, 43, was schedule to testify before a federal grand jury on Nov. 16 about “an incident that occurred several years ago with BPD police officers who were federally indicted in March of this year.”
Davis quickly sought to quash any talk of a conspiracy, though, saying the acting U.S. attorney for the case and the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office “have told me in no uncertain terms that Det. Suiter was not the target of any ongoing criminal investigation.”
“There is no information that has been communicated to me that Det. Suiter was anything other than a stellar detective, great friend, loving husband and dedicated father,” he said.
Suiter was killed on Nov. 15 while investigating an unsolved triple homicide from 2016 at a known violent intersection at Bennett Place and Fremont Avenue. Police previously said he spotted a man engaging in “suspicious behaviors”; after he approached, the man shot him in the head.
It wasn’t that straightforward, though. Davis said Wednesday that Suiter died by his own gun. The available evidence thus far suggests a struggle between the 18-year veteran homicide detective and his killer, including a brief radio transmission with a likely gunshot heard in the background, and indications on his clothing seen by responding officers.
Suiter’s partner, whose name remains undisclosed by police, took cover and ran across the street to call 911, Davis said. Suiter was brought to the hospital in a patrol car, rather than an ambulance. It took two different cars, actually, as the first one carrying him crashed, leaving officers to transfer him to a second car.
Suiter’s ties to the eight indicted Gun Trace Task Force officers date back to at least 2010, according to a Friday report from The Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton. Suiter worked with ex-Det. Wayne Jenkins – now badgeless and awaiting trial on racketeering charges – and reportedly helped arrest a man, Umar Burley, on drug charges followed a deadly high-speed case.
Federal investigators have agreed to reopen Burley’s case following the indictments, though it’s unclear if that was the one in which Suiter was due to testify.
Davis hadn’t replayed the vague description of a suspect (black male, black jacket with white stripe) for days, but said on Wednesday that the sketch hadn’t changed.
Police also announced on Thanksgiving eve that administrative charges have been dropped against Sgt. Alicia White, the final Baltimore police officer awaiting a police trial board in the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Two officers have been found not guilty so far of any internal charges, while two others accepted light punishment in lieu of facing a trial board.
“We now have the experience of two administrative trials,” said a statement sent out by police spokesman T.J. Smith. “A trial is the best test of evidence. Two separate boards have examined the evidence and have reached the same conclusion. The evidence and allegations against Sergeant White are the same.”
Baltimore enjoyed another unlikely six-day respite from killings following Det. Suiter’s murder, logging zero homicides from Nov. 16 through the evening of Nov. 22. The spell has worn off, however, with six people killed in the last five days.