Norfolk, Virginia Police Lieutenant William Kelley was abruptly fired back in April of this year when the Guardian released information on police officers and public officials who offered donations to Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund.
Now that Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all charges, Kelley is demanding that he get his job back.
Kelley donated $25 to the Rittenhouse defense fund, and did so through his department-issued email address. Kelley left a message alongside the donation that said “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
Upon terminating Kelley, Chip Filer, the city manager of Norfolk said that Kelley’s comments were “egregious” and eroded trust between the police department and the public. Norfolk Chief of Police Larry Boone echoed Filer’s statements.
Kelly, a 19-year veteran from the police department, is demanding his job back after the Friday verdict of the Rittenhouse trial. Kelly explained why he believed that Rittenhouse was innocent at the time. Kelly cited his experience as both a violent crimes investigator and homicide detective, saying that after reviewing footage of Rittenhouse’s incident, he believed that there was a “very strong claim” of self defense.
Kelly said that in donating to the defense fund, he was promoting a fundamental American ideal of innocence until proven guilty. He emphasized that it was important that Rittenhouse have a fair shot at defending himself before a jury, and knowing that lawyers are expensive, understood that legal funding was necessary for Rittenhouse to be able to make his claim.
Kelly added that his donation was made anonymously but defended his comments. He said that it was a personal opinion and was never meant to represent the Norfolk Police Department.
The donation and comment would have remained anonymous if the Guardian hadn’t recklessly revealed the identities of donators like some kind of hit-list.
At the time Kelly was fired, he was a mere 10 months away from getting his pension vested. If his job isn’t returned, he’ll never receive the pension that he worked almost 20 years to earn.
Kelley has filed a grievance against the police department, demanding his old job back, and also accuses Boone of hypocrisy since Boone attended a Black Lives Matter protest while in uniform.
Author: Jennifer Harris