A Baltimore Police officer who became a prosecution witness against other officers convicted of misconduct is leaving the department amid an investigation of his own conduct, his attorney confirmed.
Det. Joseph Crystal, who said he found a rat on the windshield of his car in November 2012 after he cooperated with prosecutors, is resigning because he continues "to feel uncomfortable and unsafe," according to his attorney, Nick Panteleakis.
The move also comes as he is being investigated for an off-duty car accident in Baltimore County involving a take-home department vehicle. Panteleakis claimed Crystal was allowed to have the vehicle, but said internal affairs detectives had opened an investigation into whether he was using the vehicle improperly because his wife was in the car at the time.
A spokeswoman for the Police Department declined to comment on the investigation.
"He's not being fired," Panteleakis said. "He resigned over all the pressure and how he's been treated."
Of the take-home car incident, Panteleakis said, "They're using it to smear him."
After the incident involving the rat became public in February 2014, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts issued a statement saying Crystal had his "full support" as a whistleblower. In June, Batts said four investigators from agencies outside of Baltimore were investigating the rat incident and said, "We're going to go wherever that information takes us."
But at that time, Panteleakis said Crystal had been shuttled between assignments and felt that the agency was pressuring his allies, labeling them as suspects and opening internal complaints against them. The car crash in Baltimore County occurred around the same time.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun