Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh on Wednesday apologized to Harlem Park residents and thanked them for their “patience” during an extended crime scene investigation in their neighborhood after the killing of Detective Sean Suiter.
For nearly a week after the killing, police officers locked down the neighborhood and required residents show ID to get past police tape to enter their homes. That practice ended Monday, police officials said.
“I thank them for their patience for the length of time that was used to deal with this particular crime scene,” Pugh said.
She added that she spoke with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to “make sure we’re respecting the neighbors and the people who live in the community.”
The Baltimore Police Department plans to clear the crime scene in Harlem Park where a gunman killed Detective Sean Suiter last week, police said, after officers locked down the neighborhood for six days.
“I apologize for any inconvenience that any resident of the city had to undergo in this particular situation, but they’re trying to get to the bottom of the case,” the mayor said. “We have to make sure we’re respecting the neighbors in our community and that people have a right to move freely to their own homes.”
Police say Suiter, 43, was investigating a triple homicide in the 900 block of Bennett Place last Wednesday afternoon when he saw someone acting suspiciously in a vacant lot and approached. The married father of five was shot once in the head. He was pronounced dead Thursday.
As the reward for information on Suiter’s killer has climbed, police maintained a perimeter in the neighborhood in hopes of gathering tips and preserving evidence. They have made no arrests.
Residents have voiced concern about the lockdown of the area, and dozens protested the extended police presence on social media with the hashtag “#FreeWestBaltimore.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said it had received reports that people have faced pat-down searches, and nonresidents have been barred from entering the area. The independent monitoring team overseeing the Baltimore police consent decree said Tuesday night that it is keeping an eye on complaints from the Harlem Park neighborhood.
City Solicitor Andre Davis, a former senior judge on the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, said Wednesday he’s seen no evidence of unconstitutional policing during the investigation.
“I have concerns because the citizens have concerns, but my understanding is it was a comprehensive investigation of a serious crime scene,” he said. “I haven’t seen any evidence of unconstitutional behavior. … The police need to control a crime scene in order to avoid contamination of a crime scene.”