BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore City police detective who claims he’s been intimidated on the job is leaving the force. He says he’s been harassed since testifying against fellow officers who were convicted in a misconduct case.
Investigator Mike Hellgren has more on what the city is offering to keep him quiet.
They offered to drop an investigation into his use of his take-home car if he agreed not to sue the city for intimidation while he was on the force, including having a rat placed on his windshield. They also wanted to stop him from speaking to reporters about it.
His lawyer says that’s disgraceful and shows the department doesn’t take weeding out corruption seriously.
Detective Joe Crystal will no longer be a member of the Baltimore City police force. His lawyer says his work environment has become intolerable since Crystal testified against an officer and sergeant who were later convicted of misconduct. That intimidation against Crystal included somebody putting a dead rat on his windshield.
“He saw a wrong and decided he couldn’t live with himself and did the right thing and was punished,” said Nicholas Panteleakis, Crystal’s lawyer. “I think that’s just unbelievable.”
Police promised a full investigation months ago into Crystal’s allegations but so far, nothing has come from it. In fact, Internal Affairs recently opened an investigation into Detective Crystal himself for taking his wife home in his police vehicle.
Then police offered to settle with him. WJZ obtained an offer from Baltimore City where, if Crystal agreed not to sue over witness intimidation and not to speak publicly about how police handled it, they’ll drop the case against him.
“They don’t care about anything but saving their money and saving their hide,” Panteleakis said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous with what this man has gone through. One, it lets the Baltimore City police know they were wrong, know that they’ve done numerous things against him that were wrong.”
The police response: “We have many officers who separate from the agency for various reasons; these are personnel matters which we do not comment on.”
The commissioner previously said Detective Crystal has his support for coming forward as a whistleblower and recently spoke one-on-one with WJZ about the importance of rooting out corruption.
“Standing before police officers in a community and saying I will not tolerate misconduct—that’s building trust,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.
“Actions speak louder than words and we’ve seen no actions,” Panteleakis said.
Crystal plans to turn in his badge and formally resign Wednesday but he still faces the investigation into his take-home car.
WJZ will stay on this developing case and bring you any new updates.
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