A Virginia police officer was fired Tuesday after a data breach revealed he anonymously donated $25 to the legal fund of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged with killing two men during a protest last summer allegedly in self-defense, and included a note with the donation that said, “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
According to the Guardian, Norfolk Police Lt. William Kelly was discovered to have sent the money and the message after data from a Christian crowdfunding website was leaked.
“God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong,” Kelly’s full message stated. “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
An internal investigation at the Norfolk Police Department later found that Kelly had violated both city and department policies, prompting his termination.
“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve,” City Manager Chip Filer said in a statement Tuesday.
The lieutenant has not yet commented on the donation or disciplinary action, and officials said he can appeal the city’s decision.
“The alleged statement and action by a member of Norfolk’s Police Department is alarming and by all means not consistent with the values of our city or the standards set for our employees,” Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander said in a statement.
While city officials widely condemned Kelly’s actions and remarks, the police union in Norfolk opposed the city’s quick response to fire the 19-year-veteran of the department. Union president Clay Messick told the Virginia Pilot that the investigation occurred “hastily” and said the conclusion was “disappointing.”
“We were hoping for a full, transparent investigation,” Messick added. “But after 72 hours, I do not believe that is what we got. It is hard to call this fair.”
The cop’s termination came just hours after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in the death of George Floyd, an incident that sparked months of riots across the United States.
“I want the residents of Norfolk to know that their police department will represent and uphold our organizational values of Service, Honor, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Diversity,” Norfolk police chief Larry D. Boone said in a statement. “A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them.