A high-ranking police officer from Norfolk, Virginia, was fired after donating to a defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse and telling the teenager—who has been charged with killing two people during unrest in Wisconsin last summer—that he did “nothing wrong,” a city official announced Tuesday.
The donation from Sgt. William Kelly, the second highest-ranking official in the Norfolk Police Department’s internal affairs division, was made public through a security breath of the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo.
Originally reported by The Guardian, Kelly made the $25 anonymous donation with a note of support for Rittenhouse, saying “every rank and file police officer supports you.”
Kelly was fired from his job this week, Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer said in a statement, announcing that both he and Police Chief Larry Boon had agreed the officer violated city and departmental policies with the “egregious comments.”
“A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them,” Chief Boone said in a statement to local residents after the decision was announced.
The former officer, who had been with the Norfolk Police Department for 18 years, according to LinkedIn, was initially reassigned to another division pending the results of an administrative investigation.
“God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong,” Kelly wrote in his note, according to The Guardian.
The city’s police union has opposed the swift removal of Kelly, with union president Clay Messick telling the Virginia Pilot that the city’s investigation had been executed “hastily.” “We were hoping for a full, transparent investigation,” Messick said. “But after 72 hours, I do not believe that is what we got. It is hard to call this fair.”
Rittenhouse is facing homicide charges and a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession for shooting two people and injuring a third during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August following the non-fatal police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse’s case has become divisive as pro-gun groups and political commentators have rallied around the case, arguing the then 17-year-old acted in self defense. Kelly was one of multiple police officers and public officials who donated to Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund, the data breach showed.