Baltimore, MD – The family of fallen Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter is challenging the police department’s investigation into his death and said they believe his murder may have been an “inside job.”
“Something’s being covered up,” Det. Suiter’s widow, Nicole Suiter, told The Baltimore Sun.
The detective’s family said the timing of the shooting – one day before he was due to testify before a federal grand jury that was investigating the corruption of the Gun Trace Task Force – was suspicious and not insignificant.
Det. Suiter was supposed to testify about an arrest he made with the task force’s leader, Baltimore Police Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, the Baltimore Sun reported.
He was expected to testify that Sgt. Jenkins planted drugs on a suspect during that incident.
“It’s just too much of a coincidence — the day before he was due to testify. It looks like an inside job,” Det. Suiter’s oldest child, 27-year-old Damira, told The Baltimore Sun.
His widow agreed with the assessment.
“I just feel like it was an inside job. That’s what I feel like,” Nicole said.
In that case, eight Baltimore police officers have since been convicted of crimes that included racketeering conspiracy, robbing citizens, falsifying reports, selling seized drugs and guns, participating in home invasions, and earning fraudulent overtime.
The detective’s widow told The Baltimore Sun that officers have continued reaching out to the family to offer leads and little bits of information.
She complained that nobody from the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office has ever contacted her regarding her husband’s case and said that the Baltimore Police Department had removed the lead investigator from the case without notifying the detective’s family.
The Baltimore PD confirmed there is no lead investigator assigned to Det. Suiter’s case at this time, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Nicole told The Baltimore Sun she has never spoken to the detective who was with her husband when he died, nor has newly-appointed Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison reached out to Det. Suiter’s family since he took over the department.
She said that detectives who investigated her husband’s death never interviewed his immediate family about his behavior during his last days alive.
“My dad was supposed to be part of this blue family — they were supposed to look out for their own, just like he looked out for his partners and protected his partners,” Damira said. “It kind of hurts knowing they dropped the ball on their own.”
Det. Suiter was conducting a follow-up investigation in connection with a 2016 triple homicide when he was shot in the head with his own weapon on Nov. 15, 2017.
His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office.
During the investigation, Det. Suiter’s partner said that he and Det. Suiter had noticed a suspicious person about 20 minutes before Det. Suiter was killed.
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 University of Maryland Medical Center Shock Trauma.
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,” then-Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at the time.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh fired Commissioner Davis in January of 2018, due to what she claimed was his inability to quell rising violence within the city, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Pugh has since resigned amid a corruption investigation after her office was raided by the FBI and IRS.
But when an independent review panel concluded in August of 2018 that Det. Suiter had taken his own life, the former commissioner spoke up again.
“Culturally, the BPD can’t live with the fact that there’s an unsolved murder of a cop on the books,” Davis told The Baltimore Sun.
Davis said he was not aware of any new evidence related to Det. Suiter’s death since his dismissal.
“It’s OK at the end of the day to say we still don’t know,” Davis told The Baltimore Sun. “We talk about probabilities and possibilities. When I left in January 2018, the probability was homicide. Suicide was always a possibility, but the strength of the evidence didn’t support it.”
Despite Davis’ role in the department at the time of Det. Suiter’s death, only two members of the independent review board interviewed him – and that interview was conducted at Davis’ request, he said.
“I told [the panel members], ‘If you tell this city and this community that it was suicide, and that’s based on no new evidence — the evidence that existed when I was there — that’s not going to be received very well,’” he recounted.
Davis said he did not trust two retired Baltimore homicide detectives who sat on the board, and described them as being “part of the culture” he was describing.
Det. Suiter’s widow doesn’t trust Baltimore PD either, WJZ reported.
“I’m not putting nothing past the police department at this point, there’s so much stuff going on down there even if they find out it was someone in the police department, they’re never going to say it,” Nicole said.
The fallen detective’s family said the panel’s report that labeled his death a suicide is not credible and tarnished Det. Suiter’s legacy.
“He gave the city better then what they’re giving us, He solved murders and things like that and I feel like they owe it to us,” Damira said.