The suspicious death of a Baltimore police detective who was fatally shot in 2017 just a day before he was scheduled to testify in a police corruption case has officially been ruled a suicide, officials said on Wednesday.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the Maryland State Police review confirmed earlier findings of the investigation — that Det. Sean Suiter shot himself in November 2017 — despite protestations by his wife and family that he was murdered.
“There is nothing in the report to suggest that Det. Suiter’s death was anything other than a suicide, nor was there any suggestion that the case should be re-investigated or continued,” Harrison said in a statement, according to reports by the Baltimore Sun.
The findings of the state review have not yet been released to the public, but an attorney for Suiter’s family is demanding that all the documents and materials related to the case be released, insisting that the department engaged in a cover-up.
“This is absolutely nothing new. This investigation that was done by the state police was done with a very tight set of parameters,” attorney Jeremy Eldridge said, adding that no additional people were interviewed or evidence was tested.
“This was rubber-stamping the already-flawed IRB report,” Eldridge said, referencing an independent review board panel’s report last year. “Sean’s family and the citizens of Baltimore City deserve more.”
Police initially suspected that Suiter had been shot while he was investigating a homicide in West Baltimore. Authorities shut down part of the neighborhood amid a multi-day manhunt for the killer, even offering a six-figure reward for information, which yielded no results.
Suiter’s partner, Det. David Bomenka, told police the pair went to the Harlem Park neighborhood to conduct a follow-up interview on a triple homicide on Nov. 15, 2017. At about 4 p.m., Suiter received a call from Eldridge, who was representing him as a witness in a police corruption case that he was slated to testify in the next day. Eldridge and Suiter were supposed to meet that afternoon at 5 p.m.
Bomenka told investigators that he and Suiter saw a suspicious person in the neighborhood and were searching for the suspect when Suiter walked toward a vacant lot out of Bomenka’s view.
Bomenka said he saw Suiter begin to gesture, as if he was waving, before drawing his gun and running into the lot. Bomenka said he heard Suiter yell “Stop! Stop! Stop! Police!” before hearing several gunshots.
After they were unable to locate a suspect for days, officials began exploring the possibility that Suiter’s death was a suicide.
An independent panel of outside experts created by former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said it believed that Suiter — who was not a target of the investigation into a 2011 incident in which drugs were planted on a man who fled police and got into a fatal crash — was concerned his own alleged misconduct could be exposed by his testimony in court, causing him to take his own life.