Homicide detective Sean Suiter was set to testify in front of a federal grand jury in a case against a group of officers but was fatally shot the day before he got the opportunity to do so.
This, according to Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
The federal prosecutions of eight members of the gun task force, who have been accused of shaking down citizens and working with drug dealers, and the murder of Suiter, have shocked the department and the city. Suiter was the first on-duty officer killed by a suspect in 10 years.
Davis has stated that the federal authorities have made it clear, “in no uncertain terms” that Suiter was not a target of their investigation into the task force. They also have no reason to think that he was killed in connection with the case.
“The BPD and FBI do not possess any information that this incident … is part of any conspiracy,” Davis stated. According to him, the evidence proves that the shooting was spontaneous as Suiter was investigating a suspicious person in a Harlem Park neighborhood.
“There is no information that has been communicated to me that Detective Suiter was anything other than a stellar detective, great friend, loving husband and dedicated father,” he went on to say.
Suiter appears to have been shot and killed with his own gun and it was fired at close range. There was also evidence of a struggle before he was shot.
Police have made no arrests and have not identified any suspects in the Nov. 15 shooting. Investigators put the neighborhood on lockdown for a few days to gather evidence and interview possible witnesses. There is a $215,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Suiter and his partner were doing a follow-up investigation on a triple homicide when they saw a suspicious person in a vacant lot. Upon approaching the suspect the 43-year-old detective was shot in the head.
He died the next day leaving behind a wife and five children.
Davis described what was seen in the surveillance video of the crime scene.
“Upon the sound of gunfire, Detective Suiter’s partner sought cover across the street,” Davis said, reading a prepared statement. “He immediately called 911. We know this, because it is captured on private surveillance video that we have recovered.”
The grand jury had indicted eight task force members earlier in the year on charges of racketeering and other crimes and investigators are still looking into allegations related to the task force.
Four police officers have pleaded guilty and at least two are cooperating with investigators. The other four have pleaded not guilty and will begin to go on trial in January.