Two residents of the 900 Block of Bennett Place, where Suiter was shot react to the panel finding that Detective Suiter's death was likely a suicide. (Catherine Rentz, Baltimore Sun video)
On the street where Baltimore Police homicide Detective Sean Suiter was found fatally shot in the head, there was disbelief that he could have committed suicide, as an independent panel has reportedly concluded.
“I don’t think so,” said Melvin Tenney, 62, who lives along the 900 block of Bennett Place in Harlem Park, a few yards from where police found Suiter in November. “I don’t believe it because he had to go to court next day against officers.”
The detective was shot the day before he was supposed to give testimony before a federal grand jury investigating Baltimore’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. Suiter was not a target of that investigation, police have said.
A medical examiner had ruled Suiter’s death a homicide. Police have not made any arrests in the case.
On Monday, an attorney for Suiter’s widow said the independent panel has concluded that the officer likely took his own life. Paul Siegrist, an attorney for Nicole Suiter, said his client was informed of the determination last week.
Tenney, who said he spoke to police multiple times in the hours and days after the shooting, said he heard three shots the afternoon police found Suiter.
“If he’s going to commit suicide, why three shots?” Tenney asked.
The Baltimore police response in Harlem Park following the fatal shooting of Det. Sean Suiter “raise clear constitutional concerns,” which included unwarranted stops, pat downs and warrant checks of residents, the monitoring team overseeing the consent decree has found.
“No, I don’t believe it. Nobody will make me believe it,” said Annette Jenkins, 54, of the suicide finding. Jenkins, who lives with Tenney, said she didn’t hear the shots because she was in the kitchen.
“I think someone killed him and put the gun in his hand,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins and other residents said they were inconvenienced for days as police blocked off their neighborhood during the investigation, forcing residents to show identification as they tried to get to and from their homes. Jenkins said she missed doctors’ appointments because a transport van couldn’t get to her street.
“Seems like a cover-up,” said Mohammad Arqub, 49, a homeowner on Bennett Place.
“Why would he come here? Someone who wants to commit suicide come here to a neighborhood with families?” Arqub said.
Farther down the street, Anthony Mellerson, 58, shared in their skepticism.
“Police supposed to be testifying against other police that day and all of a sudden he turns up dead,” Mellerson said. “That is the type of stuff gangs do.”
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In body-camera footage newly obtained by The Baltimore Sun, two Baltimore police officers discuss “running” against criminal databases the names of Harlem Park residents stopped while traveling to and from their homes amid the sprawling investigation into the death of Det. Sean Suiter in November.
An internal debate emerged within the police department about whether evidence suggested Suiter’s death could have been a suicide or homicide, and then-Commissioner Darryl De Sousa created the review board in April to look into the case as well as the Police Department’s handling of the crime scene in Harlem Park. De Sousa would later step down after being indicted by federal prosecutors on failure to pay taxes charges.