An independent review board issued a report on Monday, outlining their determination that a Baltimore homicide detective took his own life while on duty last November. But the officer's wife flat-out doesn't believe it, and the city's former police commissioner says the details that led to such a conclusion don't add up.
What are the details?
Detective Sean Suiter was killed by a gunshot to his head on Nov. 15, 2017. At the time of his death, he was investigating a triple homicide that had occurred the year before.
Suiter was set to testify the next day in a grand jury investigation of BPD's now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force — a corruption scandal in which cops robbed citizens of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, drugs and other items.
One week after Suiter's death, then-Police Commissioner Kevin Davis reported that the officer had been murdered with his own service weapon, and that there were signs that a struggled had occurred. Davis also noted at the time that there was "no evidence whatsoever" that Suiter was under investigation.
But the board's report stated that Suiter was a subject in the GTTF investigation and was accused of criminal wrongdoing by a colleague. It concluded that "based on the totality of the evidence, Detective Suiter intentionally took his own life with his service weapon."
"Readers beware, this report wants you to believe it's suicide but it doesn't add up," he said. "I think people need to press pause if they think everything in that report is entirely accurate. Some of the mistakes in it are glaring.
"I'll be the first one to tell you that I still think suicide is a possibility," he added. "My argument is, your work isn't complete. I think the IRB requires folks to go through a great degree of intellectual and moral gymnastic to reach a conclusion of suicide. It was recycled, old evidence that had already been gathered but there was nothing new in here."
The former commissioner noted that the board had failed to interview Suiter's wife or sergeant during their monthslong investigation.
Nicole Suiter, the detective's wife, told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that she does not agree with the report's conclusion that her husband committed suicide. She recalled speaking with him an hour before his death, saying that he was in good spirits.
"I understand the public has been patiently waiting for Detective Sean Suiter's wife to speak out and before now I didn't have the strength in me to do so," Nicole Suiter told The Sun. "However with this outlandish presumption at hand, I will not go on allowing anyone to shame my husband's name and ruin his legacy with these false allegations of suicide.
"There's no one alive that can convince me that the theory that this panel has formulated is correct — is the correct answer. Honestly, I have the same views and thoughts as the majority of the community — and that is my husband did not commit suicide."
What led the panel to its conclusion?
The panel listed several pieces of evidence that led them to conclude Suiter committed suicide, including:
- All three spent shell casings found at the scene came from Suiter's weapon;
- Blood spatter was found on the inside of Suiter's right dress shirt cuff
- Trace amounts of DNA, which may be attributed to two officers who carried Suiter from the lot for hospital transport, were found on his person. Apart from that, no DNA other than Suiter's was located on his person;
- The autopsy revealed no defensive wounds, such as abrasions on the knuckles, hands or arms, and Suiter was found with his police radio still in his left hand, which is inconsistent with a struggle;
- Video from a neighbor's video camera and testimony of two witnesses establish that a suspect would have had a couple of seconds at most to disarm Suiter, shoot him with his own weapon, erase any trace of his presence, and exit the vacant lot without being seen or heard.