Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Police Department announced on Wednesday that Detective Sean Suiter, 43, had been murdered with his own gun while investigating a 2016 triple homicide on Nov. 15.
Detective Suiter had planned to testify against a squad of allegedly corrupt Baltimore police officers the next day.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said he’d only recently learned of the investigation from federal prosecutors.
He said Det. Suiter was not a target of any ongoing investigation, and police do not believe his murder was related to the grand jury testimony.
The commissioner dismissed rumors that Det. Suiter’s death was anything other than a homicide, and said prosecutors told him the loss of the detective’s testimony wouldn’t adversely affect the case against the eight indicted police officers.
“The BPD and FBI do not possess any information that this incident ... is part of any conspiracy,” Commissioner Davis said. He said evidence showed the shooting occurred spontaneously.
“It certainly makes for good theater… I understand the speculation that exists… but it’s our responsibility to follow the evidence. And there’s no evidence whatsoever [that his murder was related to his planned testimony],” he said.
New York Daily News' activism writer, Shaun King, immediately responded on social media telling people he believed that the police had Det. Suiter killed.
Det. Suiter, a 20-year veteran of the Baltimore Police, was shot and killed by an unidentified assailant in the notoriously crime-ridden Harlem Park neighborhood in west Baltimore.
His partner said that he and Det. Suiter had noticed a suspicious person about 20 minutes before Det. Suiter was killed, Commissioner Davis said.
Det. Suiter saw the suspicious individual again and approached him to investigate. Police said evidence indicated that a fast and violent struggle ensued.
The former Navy officer, a beloved husband and father of five, was shot once in the head, and died the next day at Maryland Shock Trauma.
Commissioner Davis said nobody lured the detective into the area where he was killed. He also said that the autopsy proved Det. Suiter was killed with his own service weapon.
Private surveillance video recovered by police showed Det. Suiter’s partner seeking cover across the street when the gunfire erupted.
“The evidence refutes the notion that Det. Suiters partner was anything but just that, his partner … He immediately called 911. We know this because it is captured on private surveillance video that we have recovered,” Commissioner Davis said.
The police commissioner said all the evidence refutes the notion that Det. Suiter’s death was part of any conspiracy.
“We have evidence of a struggle between Det. Suiter and his killer. A radio transmission, and the sound of apparent gunfire, and evidence of a struggle visible on Det. Suiter’s clothing,” Commissioner Davis said.
“There was a very brief radio transmission made by Det. Suiter – it was about two or three seconds – it’s unintelligible right now. We don’t know exactly what he said but he was clearly in distress,” he said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working with the Baltimore Police to enhance the audio.
The commissioner listened to the audio clip and said it sounded to him like gunfire in the background.
Det. Suiter was found shot, clutching his police radio in his left hand.
Commissioner Davis explained that Det. Suiter’s autopsy had provided valuable information to the investigation, but that it had been delayed a few days because his family had decided the detective would have wanted to be an organ donor.
“The autopsy which occurred four days after he was murdered … we learned how close the gunshot was at the time. And it was a close contact gunshot wound to Det. Suiter’s head. We learned trajectory. And based partly on that autopsy we were able to look at that crime scene differently and the very next day recover the fatal round that killed Det. Suiter. And Det. Suiter’s DNA was recovered from that final round,” the commissioner said.
He urged the media not to follow rumors. He said he owed it to the family and the police department to investigate every possible lead.
Det. Suiter’s partner’s description of the suspect was an black male wearing a black coat with some kind of white stripe on it.