Norfolk Police Official ‘Relieved Of Duty’ After Donation To Fundraiser For Accused Kenosha Shooter
This post was updated April 20 at 4:05 p.m.
The city of Norfolk fired a top police official who donated to a legal defense fund for a teen accused of murdering two protesters in Wisconsin last year.
Lt. William Kelly, Norfolk police’s executive officer for internal affairs, donated $25 to a fundraiser for Kyle Rittenhouse.
The contribution in September 2020 was associated with Kelly’s official police email and included a comment saying, “God Bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
He added, “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by the actions of the political class and law enforcement.”
In a press release Tuesday afternoon, City Manager Chip Filer said the police department finished an internal investigation into the matter.
“Chief Larry Boone and I have concluded Lt. Kelly’s actions are in violation of City and departmental policies,” Filer said. “His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve.”
The Norfolk Police Department initially put Kelly on administrative duty on Friday hours after media reports of his contribution.
City officials said Kelly can appeal his termination.
Kelly became executive officer of Norfolk police’s internal affairs unit two months ago, according to his LinkedIn page. He has been with the police department for nearly 19 years.
Rittenhouse, 18, stands accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding another during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August. The protests began after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty and claimed he shot the men in self-defense.
Conservatives and far-right extremists have rallied around him as a symbol of gun rights and pushback against anti-police protestors.
In the press release Tuesday, Boone said he does not want perceptions of any individual officer to “undermine” relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community.
“A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them,” he said.
The Guardian first reported on Kelly’s donation using information from a data breach of the Christian crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo.
The breach showed other police officers and public officials have donated to fundraisers for accused murderers, far-right activists and officers accused of shooting Black people.