BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The American Civil Liberties Union has called the Baltimore Police Department’s lockdown of an entire neighborhood after Detective Sean Suiter was shot in November “constitutionally suspect.”
“For six days, police restricted all vehicles and pedestrians from entering, barred all non-residents, and forced residents to show ID and get permission at the cordon to enter or leave,” the ACLU said in a statement Wednesday.
Det. Suiter was shot while on the job in Harlem Park on Nov. 15 and he died the next day. Police say he was shot with his own gun.
At the time, police told the public that they needed to preserve the crime scene. For days, they said it was likely that the suspect was still in Baltimore. Six weeks later, there have been no arrests in the case, despite a $215,000 reward.
“Please know this crime scene preservation has been necessary,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis tweeted on Nov. 19. “We will finish our exhaustive examination of the scene in the morning.”
The scene was, in fact, released the next day, but it was closed down again shortly afterwards due to what police called new and significant evidence.
“In addition to the legal questions, and the striking disconnect between the police actions and the explanation given, the lockdown in Harlem Park raises more fundamental questions about the nature of policing in Baltimore,” the ACLU statement says.
“Many people noted that there was no similar response from the police in the hundreds of other killings in Baltimore this year. More fundamentally, the treatment of every resident in Harlem Park as a suspect, without any plausible explanation, would simply not have happened in a neighborhood that was more affluent or not predominately Black. This is just one more powerful example of the way in which policing in Baltimore, and in America, is not conducted in a way that treats all people as having equal dignity and worth.”
The ACLU of Maryland announced earlier this month that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking body camera footage of officers’ interactions with civilians during the neighborhood lockdown and investigation.