Detective Charron Walters reported seeing fellow investigators take car parts from a truck during a 2011 operation to bust a chop shop in Atlanta, Georgia.
Walters, a 16-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, said she was helping to execute a search warrant when she saw officers steal from the scene of the crime. She reported her allegations to the Office of Professional Standards and believes she’s being punished for it.
“I’m trained to recognize crime; I know what I recognized that day,” Walters told WSBTV. "They asked me about it; I spoke up about it."
The officers whom Walters called out were reprimanded for improperly handling evidence, but the alleged thefts were not mentioned.
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Since reporting the alleged theft, Walters claims she’s been transferred four times and forced into a desk job.
“When you see people mean-mugging you, they are not talking to you because you are the snitch; you are going to tell," Walters said.
Walters filed a lawsuit alleging retaliation, but Fulton County Superior Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams ruled that Walters’ testimony “failed to establish the essential elements of a retaliation claim.”
Walters is appealing the the judgment.
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“We are really going to have to fight our way through the legal system,” said Jennifer Wright, one of Walters’ attorneys. “We have good officers out there, officers that want to do a good job, and we need the courts to support that.”
Ken Allen, the president of the Atlanta police union, said it’s hard to prove that transfers constitute retaliation.
“I think that has been something that has been rumored for years in the Atlanta Police Department that sometimes that occurs,” Allen said. “It is very hard to prove it with the turnover rate that we have and the vacancy rate that come up in the other investigatory positions.”
Though the City of Atlanta declined to comment on the pending litigation, Walters believes she’s doing the right thing.
“It creates a level of fear within the department,” she said. "If it is fear based, people are afraid of speaking out on other situations [and] that creates corruption."