Baltimore, MD- Former Baltimore detective Joseph Crystal has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department and Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, alleging that fellow officers intimidated and harassed him after testifying against two police officers about their involvement in the 2011 assault of a drug suspect. Crystal also alleges that Batts failed to follow through on his promise to protect Crystal and conduct an investigation into the harassment.
“Despite the … Baltimore City Police Department promising a full investigation into plaintiff’s allegations, and Commissioner Batts promising he would get to the bottom of what happened, nothing has come of the investigation into what the department did and allowed to continue to happen to plaintiff for whistleblowing police misconduct,” the lawsuit stated.
Crystal said that the harassment and intimidation from other officers was a result of Crystal’s testimony against Sgt. Marinos Gialamas and Officer Anthony Williams for their involvement in the assault of Antoine Green in October 2011. Green had allegedly disposed of drugs, spurring a police chase, and he was later found in the home of Williams’s girlfriend. According to court testimony, Green was to be taken directly into booking but Gialamas brought Green back to the home of Williams’s girlfriend instead, where Green was then assaulted. Williams was charged with and convicted of obstructing an investigation and second-degree assault; Gialamas was convicted of nonfeasance and sentenced to a year of probation and six months of suspended jail time.
Crystal said that once his testimony became known by the rest of the department, the other officers repeatedly called him a rat and a snitch and refused to provide him with backup on multiple occasions. According to the lawsuit, a detective had told him “nobody wants to ride with you” and a union official suggested that Crystal should look into leaving the department. Crystal said that after Gialamas and Williams were charged, a sergeant called him and screamed “You better pray to God that you’re not the star witness”. In November 2012, Crystal found a dead rat placed under his car’s windshield wiper.
The harassment continued despite a promise from Commissioner Batts that an investigation onto the harassment would be carried out: “We will not stop in our efforts to identify and fire officers whose behavior is repugnant to the citizens we serve, and to protect those who report them. We strongly encourage and support officers across the organization to feel safe and justified in reporting criminal behavior.”
In June, Batts had created a team of four investigators from outside Baltimore to conduct an investigation into who put the dead rat on Crystal’s car, a move that Crystal’s attorney described as “way too little, way too late.” The investigation has yet to be completed.
Crystal’s lawsuit claims that “the retaliation violated his free-speech rights, that the department broke state wage and hour laws, and that he was forced to resign.” Crystal resigned after the BPD initiated an internal investigation of Crystal using a police car to drive his wife home, and attempted to persuade Crystal to sign an agreement promising not to sue or speak out against the BPD in exchange for dropping their investigation of Crystal. He refused and resigned in September.
Crystal is currently working in law enforcement outside the state of Maryland.