BPD and the Art of Planting Evidence: Sean Suiter and the GTTF

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BWC video discovered by a defense attorney captured BPD officer Richard Pinheiro Jr in January 2017 fabricating evidence, a judged found him guilty in a Nov 2018 trial. Staging crime scenes turns out is not a fire-able offense. ScreenGrab CBS Evening News

Pinpointing when the culture of deceit took hold within the halls of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) is not a puzzle worth solving.   Somewhere along the way the department lost all credibility, any moral authority and, at times, even its legitimacy.

No clearer example of BPD’s downfall was when Det Sean Suiter, barely hanging on to life, was transported from the intersection of Bennett Place and Schroeder Street the afternoon of November 15, 2017.  It was that day that the ugliness the city shied away from was thrust squarely in peoples’ faces so no one could continue to ignore the obvious.

Part II : Sean Suiter was accused of unknowingly planting evidence with GTTF; BPD’s coordinated a suppression of liberty and freedoms with aid of a complicit media in the week-long lockdown of Harlem Park.

Rewind the clock back eight months from Suiter’s death to the arrest of seven dirty BPD officers linked to the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). From March 1, 2017 a series of unfortunate events lead Suiter to Bennett Place reliving a single city block’s horrid history of violence, condemnation, and isolation.

Spring 2017

While in a county holding facility awaiting trial, unit supervisor and ex U.S. Marine Sgt Wayne Jenkins encouraged all members of his unit arrested to maintain their silence.  All had plead not guilty to a variety of RICO charges.

It would be a waiting game of who would crack first. Spoiler: Jenkins was sentenced to 25 years and did not testify.

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Former PC Kevin Davis awarded Wayne Jenkins in 2016 for his heroic efforts during the 2015 uprising – yep the same time he was cashing in on looted pharmaceutical drugs.

July 6, 2017

Additional robbery charges  were levied in a superseding indictment against Jenkins along with Danny Hersl and Marcus Taylor.

July 21, 2017

The blue line of silence snapped when two GTTF officers, Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward, plead guilty and agreed to be government witnesses.  Ultimately their sentences of seven years would be the lightest.

Note: Hendrix’s testimony was the most credible. Ward, the first to testify, came across highly intelligent, yet extremely manipulative and opportunistic.

August 22, 2017

On the 900 block of Bennett Place, a 15-year old boy was shot numerous times and died from his injuries.  Police made an arrest in the murder of the teen, Jeffrey Quick but charges were dropped as Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office was crippled by discredited officers and tainted evidence.

August 30, 2017

The eighth GTTF member is indicted, Sgt Thomas Allers.

It was clear to anyone watching that Hendrix, Ward, Rayam and Gondo were cooperating.  Panic had to be setting in for not just the corrupt officers, but those who were protecting them. Allers was sentenced to 15 years.

Escape Routes for Jenkins and His Protectors Closed

Jenkins was known to tell officers who worked in his crew some parts while telling other people in the unit different aspects of his criminal activity.  Hendrix and Ward were in the dirt of GTTF up to their chins, but they didn’t know where the bodies were buried. Feds picked the lowest hanging fruit first.

As long as Gondo and Rayam kept quiet, then Jenkins stood a chance. Hersl and Taylor taking a shot at a jury, proved their checkers game was no match with such high stakes.

September 2017

BPD’s Western District Action Team raided two Heritage Crossing residences, a five minute walk from 900 block of Bennett Place and made two arrests with great fanfare. Officer Zachary Novak, infamous for being with the officers who arrested Freddie Gray, was listed as one of the arresting officers in the raids near Bennett Place just before Sean Suiter was murdered.

Novak seemed to be everywhere and no where as Freddie Gray’s limp body finally arrived at Western District HQ in April 2015, along with another passenger who would give varied accounts of what he heard and saw riding with Gray.

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As of this writing, Damien Cook, is still a housed in the Maryland Department of Correction.  Byron Harris was released the week of his arrest.

October 5, 2017

Kenneth Maddox, 45, was arrested and charged with the shooting death of the teenager Jeffrey Quick by a long list of BPD homicide detectives, including David Bomenka.

October 11, 2017

GTTF officer Momodu  Gondo plead guilty to protecting a heroin ring operated in Baltimore along with criminal conspiracy charges that involved Wayne Jenkins.  Two days prior, on Tuesday October 9, GTTFer Jemell Rayam plead guilty to similar racketeering charges.  Both greed to cooperate and expose crimes within BPD.  Gondo received a 10 year sentence to Rayam got 2.

Only a few chess pieces remained on the board.  Sgts Wayne Jenkins and Thomas Allers had maintained their innocence, along with Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor and the feds prepared for trial.

Suiter Lawyers Up to Cooperate With the Feds

October 24, 2017

Suiter declined the FBI’s request for an interview on the GTTF.  This would lead them to issue a subpoena for him to testify on November 16, 2017.

It’s likely Sean Suiter took whatever he knew about the corruption within BPD to his grave. He was likely going to implicate those involved in framing two men in the death of 86 year old Elbert Davis in April 2010.

Umar Bradley went to prison on the word of members of the GTTF unit who claimed Sean Suiter found drugs in the car he was driving at the end of a high speed chase in Park Heights. He was also convicted of manslaughter because while Jenkins was chasing him, Bradley crashed into a car driven by an elderly couple (the parents of BPD officers no less).

The wrongful conviction of Bradley and his passenger Brent Mathews threatened to expose a higher echelon of criminals working within BPD. Both Sgt. Ryan Guinn and Sgt Keith Gladstone were implicated in the cover up.

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Keith Gladstone outside federal courthouse in May 2019 after pleading guilty to bringing the gun and drugs to the scene used to set up Bradley and Mathews.

Tuesday November 14, 2017

Sean Suiter and Bomenka spent the day investigating leads on Suiter’s the triple murder cold case from December 2016. It was unusual for Suiter to pair up with Bomenka.

Wednesday November 15, 2017

Bomenka and Suiter again spent the entire day together and as their shift was coming to a close, Suiter was fatally shot. His body was recovered on a vacant lot off the 900 block of Bennett Place close to Schroeder St. Witnesses heard about four total shots.

Patrol officers arrived and loaded Suiter into a car.  Leaving the scene, they backed into another patrol car for that day’s first accident.  En route to the hospital the car with Suiter was in an accident with yet another patrol car at the intersection of Martin Luther King Blvd and Baltimore St.

Suiter is moved again to an ambulance that was at the intersection. Bomenka stayed at the scene on Bennett Place.

Countless and undocumented law enforcement officers and notable political figures converged on the scene that night and over the course of the days that followed. The scene was a free-for-all, except media was excluded.

Thursday November 16, 2017

Sean Suiter’s name was released to the public and his death announced. Police gave Bomenka’s description of a person of interest: a black man wearing a black jacket with a white stripe.  PC Kevin Davis said the suspect could be injured as Suiter was shot after a brief struggle.

The narrative was shaped that he was shot with his own gun, which has never been proven.

Baltimore police expanded the perimeter of the crime scene from the block where Suiter’s body was recovered to include an indeterminate number of city square blocks clear up to Gilmor Homes where Freddie Gray was chased and arrested.

Media was also barred from the scene. The shield of secrecy would extend into the daylight hours.

November 17, 2017

The media black out continued and cops took to writing and handing out passes that allowed Harlem Park residents to get into their homes after working or running errands.

WANTED: Eyes and Ears On The Ground

The corner store owner filed a lawsuit against BPD claiming that the department took and destroyed his cameras. The stalwart known for posting wanted signs and cooperating with BPD to halt criminal activity around Bennett Place no longer had footage that included the Suiter.

BPD has never addressed what, if anything, was captured on the store’s cameras that covered Fremont Ave and the community of Heritage Crossing.

Also shielded from public view and scrutiny were the body worn cameras (BWC) of officers involved in locking down the expanded perimeter of Harlem Park for over a week. IRB provided still photos of BWC captured by officers as patrol cars arrived in response to a 911 call, which was also not made public.

The day after the ACLU complained of violations by cordoning off large city blocks and required residents to show ID in order to enter and exit their neighborhoods, BPD relented and pulled back its expansive perimeter, but maintained security around the vacant lot.

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November 22, 2017

Not unlike Pinheiro’s “discovery” of drugs earlier in the year (in a Barney Fife imitation), BPD’s homicide unit also got into the act. The perimeter was pulled back just long enough for  WBAL to film the “discovery” of the kill bullet, buried in dirt – seven full days after a slew of investigators combed the area.  Surprisingly no other bullets were found. It’s like the casings fell out of thin air.

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Lambasted by the IRB report that a crime scene tech wasn’t searching for the errant bullet, a homicide detective acts out the discovery in the few hours that the cordon was removed before it was reinstated. ScreenGrab David Collins WBAL TV Twitter

Frustrations grew over the lockdown.  Police stopped asking people for help finding  the black man wearing the black jacket. Restricted movement remained in the occupied territory of Harlem Park. 

Late afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving, PC Kevin Davis called a press conference and announced Suiter was shot the day before he was scheduled to testify in the highly publicized GTTF case.

The city gasped. Finally a potential motive.

No one had publicly connected Suiter to Jenkins’ crew until this bombshell news. A motive for BPD’s lockdown might have been to pre-emptively thwart rising public discontent over the extent of BPD corruption still not addressed from Freddie Gray’s murder investigation. While the Consent Decree monitoring team and the ACLU both have called for one, no investigation into the police state created in Harlem Park has occurred.

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Up Next

Part III: Whispers of suicide in BPD’s bought and paid for panel of independent experts reviewing the agency’s investigation of Suiter’s death and the unraveling of the IRB report

 

 

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