Norfolk police officer protests firing over anonymous gift to Kyle Rittenhouse defense

Lt. William Kelly

A lieutenant with a 19-year record with the Norfolk Police Department has filed a grievance after being terminated … for supporting a man’s right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Lt. William Kelly rose from a beat officer to a lieutenant in Internal Affairs at the department, but career ended April 19 after he gave money to the defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters last year in Kenosha, Wis., without justification.

WAVY reports that Kelly’s $25 donation was made anonymously through a crowdfunding site, and his name became attached to it only after a data breach.

“In my mind I thought it was going to blow away,” Kelly said. “We have a 24-hour news cycle and I thought I would come back to work the next week.”

Instead, Kelly found himself in a national spotlight along with a statement he made to accompany his donation: “You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you.”

“They were simple words of encouragement from one person to another,” Kelly said.

Norfolk’s city manager, however, called Kelly’s honest and constitutionally protected comments “egregious.”

Kelly has filed a grievance with the city to be reinstated and is currently waiting for his hearing.

“I believe in America everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Kelly said. “I believe there is a lot of video evidence that shows a case for self-defense and I think [Rittenhouse] should have his day in court.”

Along with the grievance, Kelly and his attorney cited a picture of police chief Larry Boone, in uniform, marching with demonstrators carrying a Black Lives Matter sign.

Asked whether this shows a double standard about pollice speaking out, Kelly said: “I certainly think it is inconsistent.”


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