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Police tape gone, autopsy done - Baltimore Police have new evidence in detective's murder

Mary Rose Madden

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis says officers have come up with new evidence in the shooting death of Detective Sean Suiter.

"Based on the results of the autopsy yesterday...we have recovered additional evidence from the crime scene," Davis told reporters. He wouldn't say what that evidence was, but stressed that investigators went back to the vacant lot in the 900 block of Bennett Place, where Suiter was shot, and made progress.

The new evidence does not change what they already knew - that all the shell casings they recovered from the crime scene belonged to Detective Suiter's firearm. 

Suiter was shot in the head last Wednesday as he approached a man police said was acting suspiciously. He died Thursday. Davis said the autopsy was delayed because Suiter was an organ donor.

The blocks surrounding the crime scene had been cordoned off by police tape for five days, which drew criticism from activists and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

David Rocah, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Maryland, said he was "troubled" by reports that some people entering or leaving the area had been "subject to pat down searches" and that non residents "have been barred from entering the area."

Davis said cordoning off the streets was "not a decision I take lightly."

"I asked a lot of questions and I was convinced it was the right thing to do," he said.

As it turned out, Davis said, the information gained from the autopsy led police back to the scene to get  evidence that might have been gone had they taken down the yellow police tape sooner.

Shortly after the tape was gone James Parker, 76, who lives a half block away from the scene on Bennett Place, walked around his neighborhood and described his feelings towards the police presence and the investigation. He said he was "confined" and "confused" and that he has many questions.

"Who did what? What's the story gonna be? Will it happen again?" 

Parker has lived in the Harlem Park neighborhood his whole life. He took a streetcar to Frederick Douglass High School and remembers the people who lived in each home. He pointed to the vacant lot where Suiter was shot and said that in the abandoned building next door lived the Popes. They were athlestes and scholars, he recalled.

"This was a good area. We had doctors living there and there," Parker said, pointing to row houses across the street. "We played baseball, football, we played cards. We looked out for each other. We didn't do a whole lot of fighting."

But now there’s a $215,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Suiter's killer.

"We lost a whole lot of older people," Parker said. Then he looked around and saw a man slowly walk past, lingering and staring.

"I see people looking. I’m getting outta here," he said, and walked on. 

Mary Rose is a reporter and senior news producer for 88.1 WYPR FM, a National Public Radio member station in Baltimore. At the local news desk, she assigns stories, organizes special coverage, edits news stories, develops series and reports.
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