- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) - A former Baltimore police detective who testified against two fellow officers convicted in a suspect’s beating has sued the department, his former supervisor and the police commissioner, accusing them of retaliating against him for being a whistleblower.

Former Detective Joseph Crystal, who now lives in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Baltimore on Monday.

Crystal said that after he reported an unjustified 2011 beating of a drug suspect to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, fellow officers began harassing and threatening him in October 2012, with one telling him: “If you’re the star witness you may as well just resign,” and “You need to watch your back,” according to the lawsuit.

Crystal’s lawsuit said the harassment got so bad, he found a dead rat on his desk one day and that the department failed to provide backup officers to him in potentially dangerous situations, including the arrest of suspects on drug charges.

“It was like I was a leper. Nobody wanted me,” Crystal previously told WJZ-TV in Baltimore.

A Baltimore police spokesman on Friday declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks at least $2.5 million.

In his lawsuit, Crystal said he began working in the department in 2008 and was promoted to detective in 2010. He was working in the Violent Crime Impact Section on Baltimore’s east side when he said he witnessed a beating by fellow officers of a drug suspect named Antoine Green.

Crystal testified that Green ran away from officers who saw him participate in a drug deal in October 2011, and that Green broke into a woman’s apartment in his attempt to get away. The apartment belonged to the girlfriend of a Baltimore police officer named Anthony Williams.

Crystal said that after Green was handcuffed and en route to a jail when Sgt. Marinos Gialamas ordered Green to be returned to the apartment. That’s when Williams, who had been off-duty, beat Green, Crystal testified.

In February, a jury found Williams guilty of second-degree assault and obstructing and hindering, and Gialamas guilty of misconduct in office. Crystal had testified against both of them.

Crystal said he resigned from the department in September because he feared for his safety and because his working conditions had become “intolerable.”

A Baltimore police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request Friday about whether Gialamas and Williams remain employed at the department; Crystal’s lawsuit says they do.

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