Lt. William Kelly, who worked in the internal affairs department for the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia, was fired after it was discovered he made a small donation to the defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse.
Chip Filer, the city manager of Norfolk, announced in a statement that an investigation into Kelly found his actions were “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. The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable,” he added.
Kelly’s donation was discovered after a data leak from a Christian crowdfunding website that revealed numerous government employees showing financial support for Rittenhouse. The teen is facing murder charges after shooting and killing two men and wounding a third rioter during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August, sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake, an African-American man, by police.
Supporters believe that Rittenhouse, then 17, acted in self-defence, citing footage of the encounter where he is seen being chased by several protesters. Those who are calling for the murder conviction see Rittenhouse as a white supremacist.
When making his donation, Kelly left the message: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
After Kelly’s actions became known, he was “reassigned to another division,” according to Police Chief Larry Boone, while an administrative investigation was conducted.
Clay Messick, president of the local police union, expressed disappointment with the investigation into Kelly, calling the decision to fire him “disappointing.”
“We were hoping for a full, transparent investigation,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “But after 72 hours, I do not believe that is what we got.”
Rittenhouse was released from custody on a $2 million bond in November, a figure that was mostly paid through donations. Some public figures received heavy public backlash over their support, including ‘NYPD Blue’ actor Ricky Schroeder. Rittenhouse has claimed he acted in self defense.