Detective under review after online posts prompt racial bias claim

A Virginia Beach detective is under review, after allegations he posted two potentially racist comments on Facebook

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) --  A spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach Police Department said Wednesday that an internal review was underway because of allegations concerning a detective's social media posts.

13News Now was in the courtroom in October when attorney Andrew Sacks questioned whether Detective Kevin Fanelli had a racial bias.

Sacks, who represents a black 15-year-old boy accused of murder, based his concern on a Facebook post that appeared on Fanelli's personal page months earlier.

Fanelli, who is white and involved in the 15-year-old's case, commented on a story about two women who supposedly trashed a fast food restaurant because of the service they received. The comment said:

"Of course they were black. Does me knowing this before I read the article indicate a problem with them or me? Them."

Sacks maintained that Fanelli may not be impartial in his investigation.

Fanelli responded to Sacks' concern at the hearing in October, saying, "It was not based off of who I am...It was an immature comment made out of anger."

Although the judge at the hearing did not believe the post indicated a racial bias, the comment could call into question other cases in which Fanelli is involved.

Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney's Office spokeswoman Macie Allen told 13News Now:

"We aren’t going to comment on specific posts/communications made by Detective Fanelli because we do anticipate they will be the subject of future court proceedings.  Yes, we will have to share information with the defense in cases in which Det. Fanelli is a material witness because it is exculpatory in nature and the rules of ethics require us to disclose such information to defense."

Master Police Officer Tonya Pierce said Wednesday that Fanelli has been with the police department since 2006. He has been assigned to the detective bureau since 2010.

Pierce added the review was regarding social media posts (plural), suggesting that there was more than one. Beyond that, she could not comment because the issue is considered a personnel matter.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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