A vacant lot in West Baltimore is the absolute last place a Baltimore City Police officer would choose to die. Ask any of them.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s focus on both the how and why the Baltimore Police would suggest otherwise. A review of several notable events will show that BPD has everything to gain and very little to lose if Det. Sean Suiter’s shooting death was changed from a homicide to a suicide.
The Evidence As We Know It
BPD has been extraordinarily tight lipped about the investigation from day one. We’ve been lead to believe not much exists to help solve the case. A lack of forensic evidence: no DNA lifted from Suiter’s clothing. Nothing recovered from the gun used to shoot him and an eyewitness description of the assailant that should no longer be considered as viable.
What is not in dispute is that the 18-year veteran suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Three (or four) shots were fired, with at one to the head, occurring in a garbage-strewn lot where a vacant building used to stand. While BPD insists the shot came from his own service weapon, no evidence has been put forth to substantiate this claim. Suiter’s hands were wiped clean.
No tests exists to prove that the bullet “found” a week after the shooting was the one that killed Suiter. Nor is there any proof that the gun found under his body once patrol arrived is the same gun that fired the bullet that killed him. The gun was retrieved in a patrol car some hours later after the Suiter was removed from the scene/
Reportedly, Suiter and his partner were on Bennett Place following up on a year-old homicide. He was shot at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday November 15, 2017 with no witnesses to the shooting. If we are to believe his partner Det. David Bomenka (and there’s not reason anyone should) and his recollection of seeing a suspicious person about 20 minutes before the shooting, we can put them scene since as early as 4 pm.
The maddeningly vague description by a seasoned police homicide detective still has watchers scratching their heads. The suspect (of course) is a black man, wearing a black jacket with a white stripe. A description, presumably provided by the one eyewitness, so vague that it makes one wonder why Commissioner Kevin Davis shared it with the public in the first place. The suspect description has been fertile ground for conspiracy theorists to sow wild beliefs from day one. This “description” given by BPD while all other helpful information was withheld from the public is the primary reason BPD has only itself to blame for even why #SuiterTheories is a thing.
No age, no height, no weight, was observable by – not just any run-of-the-mill “shook” witness, but a trained law enforcement officer came up empty on crucial description elements. However, Bomenka mustered enough cop parlance to say he saw Stuiter struggle with a”black man” who he observed earlier and was “acting suspiciously.”
It’s crucial to also note that this “description” was not provided to cops responding immediately to the scene. They were told that there was no suspect description at all! The next day, a “description” was ultimately provided to the public, and within days, BPD quickly did a re-shuffle and instructed the public not to consider the black man and black jacket at all because he probably took it off. Sigh.
Still there was a reward amount, a record high of $215,000. But we were not asked to look for anyone other than a black man, no age, no height, no build. Peoples’ suspicion grew. The eyes of the nation were once again on Baltimore Police Department.
Inexplicably, a timeline of Suiter’s activities for that day was never given. Maybe he cut someone off driving and this was a delayed road rage incident. Someone might have witnessed that. Perhaps someone spotted Suiter at a store he was at earlier, followed him to that location which led to a confrontation or some type of retaliation. Maybe he was sought out by someone who encountered him for a previous arrest or run-in. We’ll never know. The police have not given any details about what has been ruled out.
Homicide investigations 101 include a timeline of the victim’s activities. The detectives could have gotten there as early as noon or as late at 4 pm. But cast that in the huge empty bucket of unknowns. It’s also unknown if they arrived at the same time or in the same car even. Remember, an enticing reward was dangled, but nothing to aid the public to claim it. BPD never gave the public anything close to a timeline of Suiter’s movements that day to help solve his death as a murder. It’s almost like it was the city’s first and only murder.
Pretty much everything else has been tainted by innuendo, cloaked in secrecy, and of course, some details Suiter has taken with him to his grave.
Suiter’s Staged “Homicide”
To sell the murder as a suicide, and a staged one at that, BPD will likely combine a “reasonable motive” along with a description of how Suiter had both the opportunity and skill to pull off a staged homicide. The theory will center around Suiter’s apprehension to testify and his desire to leave his five children financially secure. When this is done (with the assistance of compliant media partners), BPD believes it can slam the lid shut on the Det. Suiter death and move forward with the city’s business. Narrative changed!
The day before he was set to testify in a federal grand jury case involving corruption in a gun unit at BPD, Suiter along with Det. Bomenka, not his regular partner, set out to West Baltimore. Bennett Place is a one way westbound residential street that runs parallel to Franklin St and Route 40, which is a major east/west thoroughfare. Schroeder St intersects Franklin St to the north and Fremont Ave crosses it to the south.
It was early in the afternoon a comfortable 45 degrees and cloudy. People would be walking to and from the neighborhood store, and kids would be coming home from school.
The bustling environment seemed perfect for the why the detectives were out and about looking for witnesses in order to close a 2016 triple murder case. The location might not be the best fit for the optimal place to commit a public suicide, but the very next day Suiter was scheduled to give testimony to the grand jury, time was running out.
Keeping with the theory, Suiter is there to plan his own death (We assume unbeknownst to Bomenka). With all the activity, Suiter will have to have a series of fortunate events go his way. BPD has a stake in selling the world on this theory that Suiter’s plan was to die in a urine soaked lot filled with broken bottles and small patches of grass.
The motive they will say is the thing. Suiter fits the profile (more on this later).
Suicides, accurately and commonly perceived, most likely occurs in isolation. This requires some distance. So (again if Bomeka does not participate in this wildly imaginative concoction of a story), Suiter invents a reason to go behind the wall, perhaps telling Bomenka he has to go relieve himself. When fully out of view, Suiter pops off 2-3 rounds and yells, telling Bomenka to get down or stay back as a ruse. With no one around to see him, Suiter pulls on his own clothes to give the impression of a violent struggle. He’s a seasoned cop. If anyone can stage a crime scene, he can.
Counting on his partner to follow the order, Suiter then takes his gun and reaches behind his head with his right hand and shoots himself, once. He survives the gunshot and is placed on life support until the next day when he is declared dead as a result of his injuries. The medical examiner discounts any speculation that the car accident en route contributed to his death.
NOTE: It’s possible if BPD goes hard with the scenario, Bomenka will be trotted out with new disturbing details that support the suicide theory.
Selling the public on the “why” behind concocting such an elaborate hoax will be at the center of scenario of any farce BPD might trot out. With fancy graphs, data and experts, they will insist that Det. Suiter attempted to stage his death to economically provide for his family. There won’t be any evidence of this because they would have shared it by now. Most likely they will point to how Suiter’s situation cozily fits with nationally recognized experts and studies on officers’ suicides. They’ll talk about PTSD not just for the urban stresses, but they’ll link it back to his tour in Iraq. It’ll make perfect sense they’ll argue because Suiter will check each of the boxes below:
- The average age is 42 years old at time of suicide
- The average time on job was 16 years of service
- 91% of suicides were by male officers
- Time on the job when most are most at risk was 15 to 19 years of service
- Firearms were used in 91.5% of police suicides
- In 83% of cases, personal problems appear prevalent prior to the suicide
The rationale will be reminiscent of the catch all predictions of a carnival fortune teller: You are seeking the love of your life. Recently you lost someone close to you. Something you lost will turn up soon. Yada yada yada.
The conspiracy was fed by the now infamous Thanksgiving holiday news dump. Davis dropped a bombshell as preparation was underway for Suiter’s funeral. The day of his death, Suiter was supposed to be a federal witness against Baltimore City Police officers. The video below for the first time discloses Suiter was scheduled to pointing the finger squarely at criminal activity within BPD. Davis knew this, but here he said he only just found out. Once the feds he been knew, he later said he mis-remembered. This video is a beauty in diminishing what little credibility and sympathy people were eking our for the department.
Transparency and Accountability
Up until now, first hand accounts are evasive. Those on the scene have not provided any statements to the public. Zero statements have been provided by officers who responded to Bomenka’s 9-1-1 call. We haven’t even heard the call! Some details has been provided through the media relations person and from the commissioner at the time, Kevin Davis. And even that information has not been reliable.
Dispatch audio notifying officers of the emergency was released and provides the most insight. Other primary source material promised has not materialized like the audio of Suiter’s voice on radio. Baltimore residents aren’t likely to fall for the okey-doke. They will demand that information be provided, especially the Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage of responding officers and the full autopsy results.
Remaining Puzzle Pieces
- Dispatch sent officers to Bennett and Fremont and had difficulty finding the crime scene.
- Early reports indicate that the male suspect was probably injured.
- Medical units were advised of a second victim at the scene and aware that Suiter had been transported.
- No details on Suiter’s accompaniment, a driver, a companion, etc when transported by car to University of Maryland Shock Trauma
- No details on the car accident encountered en route to hospital.
- No details on whether Suiter was conscious or if CPR or any medical performed during transport.
- Officer’s gun and officer’s radio is back in the alley where he got hit, but Suiter gone.
- Davis in discarded suicide altogether when asking FBI to take over the investigation
- No shell casings observed at the scene by first responders.
The most crucial element to supporting suicide is that evidence must prove Suiter fired all the shots and there was no struggle for his gun. This will be the complete opposite of what says said to be known facts for much of the investigation. Davis has repeated often that confusion reigned because officers were unsure the direction of the shots. Bomenka was delayed in providing aid because he was seeking shelter across the street. Also, Davis insisted Suiter was involved in a violent struggle and that possibly the suspect was injured.
They have to explain why they thought the suspect was initially injured, but the casings are key. Davis took deliberate pains to explain how the return to the scene after the autopsy gave him additional insight. Conveniently when the media cordon was lifted, officers “discovered” a shell casing in clear view of a television camera, completed with mime-quality acting.
Next Man Up – Commissioner Darryl De Sousa
Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she was terminating Kevin Davis from BPD on January 19, citing escalating violence, namely murders in the city. She never mentioned Davis’ handling of Suiter’s case for cause or even presiding over the department during the FBI investigation that landed an entire special operations unit in the pokey. Instead, she left taxpayers on the hook for his $150,000 severence.
In promoting De Sousa, Mayor Pugh admittedly has not had any lengthy or repetitive conversations with then Commissioner Davis about the investigation into Det. Suiter’s death. Instead, she cited her impatience with “getting the numbers down.” However, when she did view of grainy video prompted her support of the request for the FBI to take over the investigation. The FBI declined.
In the lead up to his eventual confirmation, Commissioner De Sousa told Brian Kuebler in an exclusive interview his plans to have a new set of eyes. The independent agency is a secret, too. When the reporter asked, very comfortably De Sousa refused to disclose any details without much pushback from the reporter.
As for his views on the death of Suiter, Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said, “I have an idea, but I’m not going to share right now.”
Showing that the more things change, the more they stay really the same.
A Notable Staged Officer Suicide
Fox Lake police officers find Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz fatally shot in a remote area of the village shortly after he radioed that he was pursuing three male suspects.