By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor
I am confident the family of Sean Suiter, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), detective, who was gunned down in the alley of a notorious West Baltimore neighborhood on Nov. 15, 2017, yearns for the day their loved one can finally rest in peace.
But, they seem determined not to rest until the truth about his death is officially brought to light.
Back in May, the family said they believed Det. Suiter’s death was a murder, “an inside job,” orchestrated by nefarious individuals, perhaps even members of the BPD, or those loyal to notorious members of the department.
Then, on Nov. 6, the BPD, after reviewing the findings of an investigation conducted outside the department by the Maryland State Police, declared the Suiter case closed, continuing to push the narrative that the veteran detective, husband and father of five killed himself. BPD seemed determined to sell the Suiter suicide line despite the fact nobody in the streets from Roland Park to Park Heights was buying it.
The very next day, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby made it known publicly she wasn’t buying it either.
On Nov. 7, during a media availability Mosby said tersely that the Suiter case was an, “open and pending matter.”
One week later on Nov. 14, one day prior to the two-year anniversary of Suiter’s death, BPD Commissioner Michael Harrison reversed course.
“I should have chosen a better word last week when I said the investigation into the death of Sean Suiter. There are still investigative steps that need to be taken and the case is continuing. The medical examiner will ultimately make the final determination regarding Det. Suiter’s cause of death,” Harrison said in a statement. Now, the Suiter case is officially still open according to the BPD.
So, what the hell is going on here?
BPD can’t have it both ways; the department can’t declare in the aftermath of perhaps the most scandalous, murderous stretch (since the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent Uprising in 2015), in the department’s history, that they are operating under a mandate of transparency, while wielding obfuscation like a cugle in the case of Sean Suiter was closed.
Harrison said, “The medical examiner will ultimately make the final determination regarding Det. Suiter’s cause of death.” Well, the medical examiner declared back in 2017 that Suiter’s death was a homicide.
Here are the facts connected to Suiter’s death for those who don’t remember:
Suiter, a BPD veteran of 18 years was investigating a homicide with his partner in the 900 block of Bennett Place, over the years one of the more violent neighborhoods in West Baltimore. Allegedly, Suiter approached someone in the neighborhood to question them, perhaps someone Suiter recognized from previous encounters. Seconds later, shots rang out, Suiter’s partner scrambled for cover, while the veteran detective was lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood suffering from a gunshot to the head.
The next day Suiter was scheduled to testify against the notorious Gun Trace Task Force.
Myriad questions emerged immediately. What happened to the person Suiter was questioning? Initially, bullet casings were not discovered at the murder scene, then the next day bullet casings magically appear. Kevin Davis, the BPD commissioner at the time of Suiter’s death angrily denounced Suier’s killer as a “soulless coward.” Davis put out a description of a young Black male wearing a hooded black and white sweatshirt as a suspect in Suiter’s murder. What happened to that guy? The brazen nature of Suiter’s murder led BPD (if you let them tell it) to lock down several of the neighborhoods engulfing the West Baltimore crime scene, stripping residents of some Constitutionally protected rights in the process.
Then, Davis who had been fired as commissioner about a month after Suiter’s death said the following to my colleagues Taya Graham and Stephen Janis regarding the theory Suiter committed suicide:
“I spoke to those closest to Suiter, zero indication; happily married and no signs of distress. To think that a homicide detective would stage his own suicide in broad daylight is absurd,” said Davis.
I suspect the majority of Baltimoreans will never accept the assertion Sean Suiter killed himself.
I know his family won’t.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of Baltimore’s Great Imperiled Cities.