RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A former Petersburg, Virginia police detective claims in court that he was pretextually fired for eating a piece of candy found at a crime scene in retaliation for accusing a colleague of misconduct.
In a complaint filed Oct. 19 in Richmond Federal Court, Derrick Greer says he had an untarnished record as an officer with the Petersburg Bureau of Police, and was promoted to detective with the department's Fugitive Apprehension Unit in 2015.
In January 2015, Greer and other investigators executed a search warrant on the home of Jeffery Fisher, a suspected drug dealer. The complaint describes an extensive search, and the recovery of a large amount of cash.
Greer says a supervisor, Detective Shane Noblin, ordered him to take photos of the residence, and that as he did so, he noticed pieces of candy on the floor.
Greer says he spent hours at the scene and began to get hungry. He claims he asked a fellow detective, Dale Eichler, whether he thought it would be alright if he ate one of the pieces of candy he saw on the floor earlier.
According to the complaint, Eichler told him "he didn't think" it would be a problem, so Greer ate the candy.
Shortly afterward, the investigators collected their equipment and relevant evidence and left.
As a result of the search, Fisher was charged with possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of a firearm after being convicted of a felony, and possession of a schedule II controlled substance while in possession a firearm.
Detective Noblin testified at a preliminary hearing in the case, and shortly afterward, retired. Greer, who had been his partner, was assigned to take over his cases.
But as recounted in the complaint, Greer was ambivalent about the assignment.
He says he expressed his concerns about Noblin's honesty to Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tiffany Buckner and advised her to throw out the retired detective's pending cases because "everybody knows he is dirty, or words to that effect."
In October 2015, after charges against Fisher had been certified, it was discovered that evidence from the case had gone missing. With that, an internal investigation ensued.
During the investigation, Greer admitted to eating the candy during the search. Soon after, he says, he learned that his eating the candy had been deemed "theft" and that he faced due to his alleged misconduct.
He was fired a few days later.
Greer is contesting the reason for his termination, stating "eating a piece of abandoned and valueless candy found on the floor is neither an admission of moral turpitude nor immoral or unbecoming conduct."
He further contends that the termination has "no basis in fact or law."
Greer is seeking compensatory damages to be determined at trial, and punitive damages of no less than $350,000.
He is represented by James Thorsen of Thorsen, Hart & Allen LLP in Richmond.
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