A Virginia police detective was fired for eating candy off the floor of a crime scene, but he says the department is the “dirty” party.
Shortly before thousands of dollars were reported missing from a Petersburg, Virginia police evidence room, detective Derrick Greer called foul. Greer had been on the scene when the money was collected during a drug bust, and suspected a fellow detective was up to underhanded tricks. But when Greer brought his concerns to superiors, the whistleblower was rebuffed, he claims in a new lawsuit.
Instead of taking his allegations seriously, Greer alleges in a federal lawsuit filed last week, that his supervisors fired him for eating a piece of candy from the crime scene where the cash had been collected.
In January 2015, Greer participated in a drug raid on a Petersburg home. Greer was ordered to document evidence. He snapped pictures of the home, and placed several thousand dollars into an evidence bag. But as the night wore on, Greer spotted a piece of evidence he thought no one would miss.
“Plaintiff continued to search the house and observed a few pieces of candy on the floor in the same room as Detective Eichler on the first floor of the Residence,”
“Since it had been several hours since the … team made entry, Plaintiff was hungry. Plaintiff asked Detective Eichler if he thought Plaintiff would get in trouble if Plaintiff ate a piece of candy, or words to that effect. Detective Eichler responded that he did not think so, or words to that effect. Plaintiff then picked up a piece of candy, unwrapped it, and ate it.”
The missing candy was forgotten—until the thousands of dollars Greer had confiscated went missing too.
Greer’s supervisor, Detective Shane Noblin, had taken the lead on the home raid, which resulted in the arrest of Jeffrey Fisher on drug and firearms charges. Noblin testified in Fisher’s early hearings, but retired amid rumors that he was being demoted, leaving Greer to take over the case. Greer supposedly told supervisors that Noblin was so “dirty” that his old cases weren’t worth pursuing.
During a meeting with Petersburg Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Buckner, Greer claims he was “uncomfortable continuing with Detective Noblin's cases,” the suit claims. “Plaintiff further urged Ms. Buckner to throw out Detective Noblin's cases because everybody knows he is dirty, or words to that effect. Ms. Buckner replied that the issue was not her problem, she was not on that, and she was just there to prosecute cases, or words to that effect.”
Petersburg police did not return a request for comment.
Greer’s attorney Jesse Roche told The Daily Beast that he could not speak to the specifics of Greer’s doubts, other than that “Mr. Greer noted some irregularities in the search of [Fisher]’s home that occurred earlier that year.”
But Fisher’s attorney Shaun Huband, who learned of Greer’s internal report, was more explicit in his case against the police.
“More than thirteen thousand dollars ... recently went 'missing' from the Police Department's property room due to what the Police Department's own internal audit has revealed to be a 'clerical error,’" Huband wrote in a court motion, pointing out that the money collected during the raid on Fisher’s house was missing among the case.
Fisher’s defense team said the missing money was particularly suspicious in light of Greer’s complaints about Noblin, and issued a subpoena for Greer to testify in court. Meanwhile, police announced an October 2015 investigation into the missing funds.
But the only person nailed for theft was Greer, who was slated to testify against the department.
An internal police review, produced as evidence in Greer’s case, reveals that he confessed to eating a single piece of candy during the drug bust at Fisher’s house in January 2015.
“This is an admission of moral turpitude (theft) by the written statement of the subject employee,” the police review states. The City of Petersburg defines “moral turpitude” as acts “including but not limited to charges that encompass a base or vile act (i.e. acts that involve dishonesty, fraud, intentional or reckless infliction of harm to persons or property, or acts in which malice is an element."
Greer’s lawyers said “moral turpitude” is an outrageous charge for eating a piece of candy.
“An admission to eating one (1) piece of abandoned and valueless candy found on the floor of a crime scene is not an admission of moral turpitude by definition,” Greer’s suit reads.
Roche, Greer’s lawyer, said he suspects the charge was retaliation against Greer, who tried his best to be a whistleblower.
“In order to protect their case, they fabricated this absurd reason for his termination,” Roche said, “that he ate a single piece of discarded candy at a drug den, basically.”
Greer is seeking $350,000 in damages for “lost wages and benefits, damage to his reputation, and emotional and mental distress, including, but not limited to, humiliation and embarrassment.”
His legal team was not certain the kind of candy he had eaten from the floor.