Nicole Suiter, Det. Sean Suiter's widow, reacts to IRB report that he killed himself. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun video)
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said he has met with the medical examiner in an ongoing investigation into the shooting death of detective Sean Suiter, but he has not been updated on several “tasks” prosecutors said need to be completed before the case can be closed.
The circumstances surrounding Suiter’s death burst back into the headlines last month — on the second anniversary of the shooting — after Harrison briefly closed the case, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said it remained open and Suiter’s family held a news conference to decry what they called a flawed investigation and cover-up.
Harrison quickly recanted and agreed with Mosby that several unspecified steps needed to be taken before the case can be submitted to the coroner for a final determination. The death was classified as a homicide, an independent police review called it a suicide and Suiter’s family and many members of the community say he was murdered.
In a recent interview Harrison said his office regularly communicates with Mosby but has not received new information or talked about the progress of finishing the final tasks.
"I just haven’t been informed that they have all been completed. The moment that they have, then we will forward what we have to medical examiner,” Harrison said.
Suiter’s death had originally been ruled by the medical examiner as a homicide after he was found fatally shot in a vacant lot in the Harlem Park neighborhood in November 2017. The police department cordoned off the neighborhood for several days searching for a shooting suspect into the officer’s death.
They claim a final report issued by an independent review board that concluded Suiter took his own life was flawed. Suiter’s wife, Nicole, said investigators never interviewed family members or talked to her about her husband’s state of mind before his death. She said she does not believe he took his own life.
A memo obtained by The Baltimore Sun after Harrison and Mosby commented on the case last month, and after the Suiter family held a news conference, showed prosecutors believe more work needs to be done on the case.
“We agreed that there were several more tasks that had to be completed," Harrison said this week. “We have not reconvened to talk about the completion of those tasks. I did meet with the medical examiner who will be awaiting any report about the completion of all those tasks who will ultimately make the final decision. I have not been informed that they have all been completed."
When asked when the case could be completed, he said, “I can’t speak to time. I can only say that when I am notified I think, in a very transparent way we will let [the public know] because we will be turning everything over to the medical examiner.”
In response to questions from The Baltimore Sun, Zy Richardson, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office, said Friday, “Nothing to report since this investigation remains ongoing.”
The memo stated that prosecutors, working with Baltimore police detectives, were running down a tip from a federal confidential informant who told detectives about secondhand information he received from a potential witness. According to the informant’s account, this person provided an account of someone getting into a struggle with and shooting a man who they later learned was Suiter.
This federal informant said he knew the name of the man who told him the story, but that he never got the name of the person who did the shooting.