Former Baltimore police detective Joseph Crystal, who resigned this summer, is now suing both the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and the police commissioner for not protecting him from retaliation. In 2012, Crystal reported an incident to prosecutors where a fellow cop assaulted a handcuffed suspect previously found in his girlfriend's house. While police officers often complain about the "no snitch" culture in crime-ridden communities, that same culture often appears alive and well among police too. Crystal says after he reported the misconduct he found a rat on the windshield of his car that was parked outside his house.
That was just the beginning, as The Baltimore Sun reports:
Crystal also alleges that other officers refused to back him up on the streets. He alleges that in November 2012, no one from his unit responded to a call he put out over the radio that he was involved in a foot chase as part of a drug investigation.
Two days later, he stopped two suspects and called for backup. He contends his supervisor called his cellphone and "gave him a direct order to return back to the district and that he would not be given backup."
"Nobody wants to ride with you," a detective told him later, according to the lawsuit.
Crystal also alleges that a detective once pulled up alongside his police car and asked if he was "having a cheese party. I know rats like cheese." And he says a union official told him he should "look into going to another agency."
BPD won't talk about the lawsuit while it says an unspecified outside investigation continues. The police commissioner, Anthony Batts, publicly promised to protect Crystal when news of his whistleblowing broke.
Whether or not Crystal wins his lawsuit, this story doesn't really have a happy ending. While Officer Anthony Williams, who was off duty while he beat the suspect, was convicted of assault and obstruction of justice for the incident, he was sentenced to… 45 days in jail, this after telling the court he'd do it all over again. And he appears to remain employed as a Baltimore police officer.