Donation to Kyle Rittenhouse's Crowdfunding Campaign Gets Virginia Cop Fired From the Department: Officials
William Kelly, a former police officer with the Norfolk Police Department, left troubling comments along with his $25 donation, city officials said.
A police lieutenant who expressed support for and donated to Kyle Rittenhouse’s campaign has been fired, Norfolk, Virginia officials said in a statement. Former Lt. William Kelly allegedly left a comment on Rittenhouse's crowdfunding campaign that read, “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you,” the Virginian-Pilot reported.
Rittenhouse is facing charges stemming from the Kenosha protests that broke out in August after an officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, multiple times. Rittenhouse is charged with two counts of first-degree homicide in connection with the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and and one count of attempted homicide in connection with injuring Giage Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse who was 17 at the time, has claimed he acted in self-defense.
A page was created in support of Rittenhouse on the Christian crowdfunding website GiveSendGo, where people could donate money toward Rittenhouse and leave messages of support. Kelly allegedly donated money and commented there, officials said.
“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve,” city official Chip Filer said of Kelly's alleged behavior in a statement. “The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable.”
Kelly’s termination comes as GiveSendGo was hacked and data from anonymous donors was released and shared by transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets.
It was then discovered a $25 donation contributed by someone who wished to remain anonymous was made through Kelly’s work email address, according to The Guardian. His donation also came with a comment of support: “Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership," the outlet reported.
“A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them,” Police Chief Larry Boone said in a statement. “We do not want perceptions of any individual officer to undermine the relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community.”
The City of Norfolk confirmed that Kelly's firing was directly related to the alleged donation and comments.
A source identified only as a police officer with the Norfolk Police Department who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Virginian-Pilot that “many of us here are pissed off because he doesn’t speak for us and those views are certainly not mine. We are waiting to see how this is handled by the administration.” The anonymous officer also called Kelly a “golden boy” and that he never would have guessed he would be the kind of person to support Rittenhouse, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
Police union president Clay Messick called the termination “disappointing.” “We were hoping for a full, transparent investigation,” he told the Virginian-Pilot. “But after 72 hours, I do not believe that is what we got.”
Kelly is not a member of the police union, the Associated Press reported.
Kelly has not spoken out since his termination. Inside Edition Digital has been unable to reach Kelly and the police union for comment.
But Kelly wasn’t the only member of law enforcement or public office who allegedly donated to Rittenhouse’s campaign. The work email addresses of a paramedic based in Utah, an Alabama city official and an engineer who works on the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile were also used to donate to Rittenhouse's campaign, The Guardian reported.
Additionally, the hacking found that several Wisconsin police officers allegedly donated to a campaign supporting the Kenosha police officer who shot Blake, The Guardian reported.
Blake, a Black man, is currently paralyzed after being shot several times in the back.
The officer who shot him was put on administrative leave immediately after but returned to work on March 31, according to CNN. Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said he will not be facing discipline as he "was found to have been acting within policy." The Kenosha County District Attorney also determined earlier this year that the officer would not be facing criminal charges.
After the incident, the officer told investigators that he had used deadly force as he believed Blake would flee, and that he had kidnapped the child that had been in the backseat of the car he was driving, CNN reported.
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