A Baltimore detective was fatally shot with his own gun just one day before he was set to testify before a federal grand jury in a case involving other officers, the city’s police commissioner said Wednesday.
“Detective Suiter was going to offer federal grand jury testimony about an incident that occurred several years ago that included officers who are now federally indicted back in March,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said of Sean Suiter.
“He was scheduled to offer grand jury testimony the day after he was murdered,” he added.
But Davis stressed that as the search for Suiter’s killer continues, there was currently no evidence that the slaying was linked to his upcoming testimony or any conspiracy.
“While I understand the wild possibilities that go through people’s minds when we all want answers, I just am determined to keep following the evidence,” he said. “There’s nothing we won’t consider, there’s no path we won’t go down if the evidence takes us down that path.”
But Davis said the evidence appeared to show that the murder followed a “spontaneous encounter” after Suiter approached a man behaving suspiciously in a vacant lot in between some houses on Nov. 15. He died the following day.
Davis said evidence showed that Suiter’s decision to approach the man was “spontaneous and unplanned” and it was not as if the officer had been lured to any particular location.
The commissioner added that the evidence refutes that Suiter’s partner “was anything but just that — his partner.”
That officer took cover across the street upon hearing the sound of gunfire and then immediately called 911, he said.
There was evidence of a physical struggle between Suiter, 43, and his killer and the detective was shot in the head and killed by his own gun, Davis said.
Suiter was an 18-year-veteran of the force and father of five.
He was due to testify before a federal grand jury investigating a group of Baltimore officers who worked together on a firearms crime task force and have been charged with stealing money, property and narcotics from people over two years, according to The Associated Press.
The members of the Gun Trace Task Force, a small unit tasked with removing illegal guns from Baltimore streets, were described in an indictment as abusing their position to detain people under false pretenses, threaten them and steal from them, according to the AP.
They are also stand accused of faking police reports, lying to investigators and defrauding the department.
Davis emphasized that he had been told both the acting attorney general and the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore field office that Suiter was a witness, and “not the target of any ongoing criminal investigation.”
“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 said.
A reward of $215,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed Suiter.