A Norfolk, Va., police officer was fired on Wednesday following revelations that he donated $25 to the defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with killing two demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisc., during riots and protests last summer.
Lieutenant William Kelly, an 18-year veteran of the force, made the anonymous donation in September via crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, but with an email address linked to himself. GiveSendGo suffered a data breach that exposed Kelly’s donation, and information leaked in the breach was shared by transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets with The Guardian last week.
Kelly wrote a note in support of Rittenhouse along with the donation, commenting “Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer said Kelly was fired after an internal investigation, in a statement to local news station WAVY.
“Chief Larry Boone and I have concluded Lt. Kelly’s actions are in violation of City and departmental policies. His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve,” Filer 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,” Chief Boone added in his own statement.
Kelly will be able to appeal the decision if he chooses.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was charged with homicide after two of the three people he shot died. The Illinois resident, who prosecutors note crossed state lines to Kenosha, Wisc., during the summer riots, pleaded not guilty in January.