The motion is largely based on information that former Petersburg Detective Derrick Greer revealed to Joanne Pena, a public defender’s office investigator, and includes serious allegations of police misconduct during and after the search of Fisher’s home — especially in regards to former Petersburg Detective Shane Noblin, according to the document.
Greer told a Petersburg internal affairs officer that he believed Noblin was “dirty” and expressed concerns “about Noblin’s ethical practices as a police officer,” according to the motion, which adds, “This information was never revealed to the defense.”
Greer also voiced his concerns about Noblin in a June 2015 meeting with a Petersburg prosecutor, urging her to throw out all his cases because “everybody knows the guy is dirty,” the motion says. Greer was assigned as the property officer during the search of Fisher’s home, the document adds.
In a development that Huband suggests is tied to the ongoing evidence room investigation and audit, he wrote that Greer searched another man at the house, identified as Arthur Moore, and found $400 to $500 in cash on him.
“Upon information and belief, Moore’s money is part of the more than thirteen thousand dollars that 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 his motion.
Greer removed the money he found on Fisher during a search, the motion says, and placed the cash into an evidence bag. However, the prosecutor handling the case indicated to Fisher’s former attorney earlier this year that no money had been recovered from the defendant, the motion says.
Other allegations contained the motion include:
The warrant obtained to search Fisher’s home was Noblin’s second attempt in securing a warrant. A magistrate from whom Noblin originally sought a warrant refused to issue it.
While standing on the porch of Fisher’s home, a Petersburg police lieutenant ordered two other officers on the scene to “turn around” as a battering ram was used to force open the door “without first knocking and announcing,” as required by law. After the door was completely removed, the two officers were instructed to turn back around.
After police secured the occupants of the home, at least one member of the department’s tactical team used a window entry tool to break several windows.
After removing the home’s occupants, “unnecessary, unreasonable and significant damage was done” inside the house. Televisions and other electronic equipment were damaged or destroyed.
Greer heard Noblin say the house would have to be “red-tagged,” or deemed uninhabitable, because of the extent of damage. “Noblin appeared to view this as positive.”
Noblin claimed to have “retired” from the department in May 2015 but “it appears that Noblin left the force because he may have been subject to demotion from detective back to being a patrol officer.”
At an Oct. 20 hearing where the allegations were discussed before Circuit Judge Dennis S. Martin, Petersburg prosecutor Tiffany Buckner told the court the allegations were based on hearsay and not facts, according to a transcript of the proceeding.
“It’s based on one officer that has an issue with another officer, which has nothing to do with this case,” she said. “There is no factual basis to lead the commonwealth to believe that the officer’s involved in anything improper.”
Noblin could not be located for comment. Through department spokeswoman Esther Hyatt, Petersburg police declined comment on the allegations because the information “is part of an ongoing case and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”
“At the conclusion of the case, send your questions and we can make a statement,” Hyatt said in an email.
All three judges of Virginia’s 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes Petersburg, have recused themselves from hearing the case after the public defender’s office raised concerns and asked that a special prosecutor be appointed. The Virginia Supreme Court appointed retired Henrico Circuit Judge Catherine Hammond to preside, and Powhatan Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Cerullo has been named special prosecutor. A hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 10 on the latest motions.
At the Oct. 20 hearing that led to the appointment of a new judge and prosecutor, Judge Martin described the allegations as “highly concerning.”
“The court is keenly concerned about the public’s perception of the fairness of the court system particularly in a city that is majority minority and amongst minorities who generally tend to have a distrust of the criminal justice system, period,” Martin said, according to the transcript.