Before he was fatally shot by two Fresno police officers during a traffic stop in June, 19-year-old Dylan Noble was upset with his biological father coming back into his life and complaining about his low-pay construction job, according to search warrant documents in Fresno County Superior Court.
Noble also posted messages on Facebook that date to 2011 to indicate he may have have been suicidal and hated police, the documents say.
So down on myself, sometimes I wanted to die.
Dylan Noble in Facebook post in July 2011
The documents shed new light on the police investigation into Noble’s death on June 25 in the parking lot of a gas station in east-central Fresno. Among the revelations is that an unidentified, off-duty Fresno County sheriff’s sergeant witnessed the traffic stop from the gas pumps, took out his gun and pointed it at Noble, and warned police that Noble “was reaching into the glove box and put something behind his back.”
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But the most startling revelation in the affidavit may be that police believe Noble could have been the man walking on Clinton Avenue and carrying a rifle that resulted in a 911 call that ultimately led to his death.
Fresno police homicide detective Luis Carrillo obtained a warrant to search Noble’s Facebook account after he learned that there was a recent photo of Noble holding a rifle posted there. But after his death, Carrillo says in the affidavit, someone took control of Noble’s Facebook account and deleted the photo of him holding the rifle and other posts that Carrillo says could be critical to the police investigation.
Carrillo presented the evidence to a judge to get a warrant to search Noble’s account at Facebook’s headquarters.
The shooting of Noble was captured on video by a bystander’s cellphone and by the body cameras of Raymond Camacho and Robert Chavez – the officers identified in a lawsuit against Fresno police as the ones who shot Noble. The officers fired on Noble because they believed he was armed and about to shoot them, Chief Jerry Dyer has said. Police later discovered that Noble was unarmed.
Carrillo says in his affidavit in support of the warrant that Noble’s mindset before he was shot is critical to the investigation. Moments before he was shot, Noble blurted out to officers: “I (expletive) … hate my life.”
Noble’s parents, Veronica Nelson and Darren Noble, divorced when he was young, court records say. Nelson later remarried.
On Wednesday, Fresno attorney Stuart Chandler filed a lawsuit on behalf of Noble’s mother. The wrongful death lawsuit in Superior Court contends Camacho and Chavez used excessive force and accused the Fresno Police Department of negligence, conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Girlfriend interviewed by police
A day after Noble was shot, Carrillo interviewed Noble’s girlfriend, who had been living with him about a year. “She said Noble was in fact upset recently about his biological father recently trying to come into his life,” Carrillo writes. “She explained he had a good relationship with his stepfather and considered him his actual father. ”
She also said Noble also “was upset about his job and complained that he did not get paid enough money,” the affidavit says.
On June 29, the detective talked to three men who saw a man with a rifle on Clinton Avenue, east of Clovis Avenue. They described the suspect as a young, white man with a camouflage, boonie-type hat and wearing a camouflage shirt.
A day later, Carrillo said the woman who initially called 911 was interviewed at police headquarters. She told detectives that the suspect was a young white male, possibly in his late teens or early 20s, and “wearing a camouflage shirt and blue or khaki/mustard pants.”
“Decedent Dylan Noble was wearing yellow and mustard colored pants” when he was killed, the affidavit says. “A camouflage boonie-type hat was located on the floorboard of (Noble’s) vehicle.”
The woman was again interviewed on July 7. In that interview, she said she had seen photographs of Noble on the internet. Carrillo says he asked her if Noble was the man she saw carrying a rifle. The woman “said she thought Dylan Noble looked like the same person with the rifle she saw on June 25, 2016,” the affidavit says.
Witness points investigators to Facebook
Another development in the case came July 25, when another woman, who knew Noble through her friends, called the Fresno Police Department. She told police that she had been collecting Noble’s postings on Facebook, dating back to 2011. “She stated he admitted to being suicidal in these Facebook messages,” the affidavit says. “She said he was suicidal; he was abused; and he was bullied in school, according to his postings.”
The affidavit lists a few postings from May to October 2011. In them, Noble says he doesn’t want to go to school because people have been treating him badly; that he was abused by his father when he was young; curses the police; and says he is depressed and contemplating suicide.
“If I were to die today, what would you remember me by?” a post in July 2011 says.
Dyer said Thursday that his department is expediting the criminal investigation and he anticipates it being completed this month.
On Friday, the lawyers for Noble’s parents took offense to the Facebook information, saying it is not relevant to the criminal investigation and was designed to smear Noble. They also said the woman who collected Noble’s Facebook messages is married to a sheriff’s deputy, so the tidbits of information given to police are suspect.
“Dylan is not a criminal. He’s the victim,” said Fresno attorney Warren Paboojian, who plans to file a lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department on Darren Noble’s behalf within the next two weeks.
Chandler, the lawyer for Noble’s mother, said the focus of the criminal investigation should be what the officers knew at the time and what they observed before they shot Noble, and not Noble’s past. “I believe police are trying to taint the criminal investigation in order get an upper hand in the civil proceedings,” Chandler said.
Noble had a good relationship with his biological father, Paboojian said, adding that in all relationships “there are ups and downs.” Chandler noted that Noble’s remarks on Facebook were written when he was 14 years old. Paboojian said he believes some of the remarks are from rap songs.
Both lawyers said the identification of Noble by the woman who called 911 should be suspect. That’s because Noble was wearing a gray T-shift when he got out of his truck, not a camouflage shirt.
Both lawyers also criticized the police for not divulging in the affidavit a key piece of evidence: videos from body cameras worn by Camacho and Chavez show a Jeep following Noble’s truck before he was pulled over. Noble’s friend was driving the Jeep, the lawyers said.
After Noble was killed, police interviewed the friend and several people who were with Noble at a home before the shooting. They said Noble never left the house with a rifle to go for a walk. When Noble and his friend did leave, they went to run an errand, Chandler said. “Before police even got the warrant, they knew Dylan wasn’t the subject with the rifle,” Paboojian said. “But you won’t find that information in the affidavit.”