Slain Baltimore homicide Detective Sean Suiter was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury in the case against a squad of indicted officers on the day after he was shot, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Wednesday evening.
The revelation brings together two cases that have sent shock waves through the Police Department and the city as a whole: the federal prosecutions of eight members of the department’s elite gun task force, who are accused of shaking down citizens and conspiring with drug dealers, and the killing of Suiter last week in West Baltimore, the first of an on-duty officer by a suspect in 10 years.
Davis said Wednesday that federal authorities have told him “in no uncertain terms” that Suiter was not a target of their investigation into the Gun Trace Task Force. He said authorities have no reason to believe Suiter’s killing was connected to his pending testimony.
“The BPD and FBI do not possess any information that this incident … is part of any conspiracy,” Davis said. He said evidence shows the shooting occurred spontaneously, as Suiter investigated a suspicious person in the 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 said.
Davis also said that Suiter is believed to have been killed with his own service weapon, which was fired at close range, and that there was evidence of a struggle before the shooting.
Police have not identified a suspect or made arrests in Suiter’s shooting Nov. 15. Investigators locked the neighborhood down for several days after the shooting to gather evidence and interview potential witnesses. Authorities are offering a reward of $215,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Police say Suiter and a partner were conducting a follow-up investigation on a triple homicide in the 900 block of Bennett Place when he saw someone acting suspiciously in a vacant lot and approached. The 43-year-old detective, a married father of five, was shot once in the head.
He died the next day.