A Virginia police officer who was fired for sending a donation to Kyle Rittenhouse‘s defense is asking to have his job back now that the teen has been acquitted of murder charges
Norfolk Lieutenant William Kelly was fired in April by city officials for donating $25 to fund the legal fees for Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two people and injured one during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020.
Kelly was first placed on administrative duty before he was fired as his actions were being investigated.
“I have reviewed the results of the internal investigation involving Lt. William Kelly. Chief Larry Boone and I have concluded Lt. Kelly’s actions are in violation of City and departmental policies,” said Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer in a statement in April.
On Friday, Kelly told the Daily Mail he hopes to have a hearing date by the end of January with regards to going back to work. However, he wants to privately handle the matter before then.
Kelly said that he was only fired because he supported Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense.
“If I had a different opinion and I donated to a fund for the victims and made comments about how Mr. Rittenhouse was a murderer, nobody would have cared or tried to get me fired,” Kelly said.
According to the Mail, Kelly might not be able to access his pension if he didn’t return to his job. The police officer was reportedly only 10 months away from having his pension after working for almost 20 years at the department.
Kelly said that his opinion about Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim doesn’t impact his ability to perform his job as a police officer.
“This is America. You can agree with your neighbors and other people in your community and you can disagree with them,” he told the media outlet. “Just because someone has a different opinion than you, it doesn’t mean you should destroy their lives, take their job away.”
Kelly made his donation anonymously on the Christian crowdfunding website GiveSendGo after he reportedly found that a GoFundMe fundraiser set for Rittenhouse was taken down. GoFundMe said on Friday that it canceled those accounts because it prohibited “raising money for an alleged violent crime.” But the platform added that it’s okay to raise money for Rittenhouse now that he has been acquitted of criminal charges.
Though Kelly’s donation on GiveSendGo was anonymous, it was exposed in a data leak that revealed the names of people who donated to the Rittenhouse case, The Guardian reported in April.
Kelly used his department email address to send the donation and left a message on the crowdfunding website in support of the 18-year-old.
“God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership,” Kelly’s message read.
Newsweek contacted the Norfolk Police Department for comments.
In May, per WAVY, Kelly filed a grievance asking for his job back and accused the police department of “unfairness” for allowing police chief Boone to march in uniform with Black Lives Matter protesters.
“My dismissal reflects inconsistency, unfairness and discrimination by the City of Norfolk in regard to speech by members of the Norfolk Police Department. I engaged in speech which was private and anonymous but became public through no fault of my own,” Kelly said in the grievance.
“The Chief of Police of the Norfolk Police Department, in contrast, has been permitted to parade through the streets of Norfolk, wearing his Norfolk Police Department uniform, holding a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign while marching with a crowd protesting against police and law enforcement,” he added.
During his Friday interview, Kelly spoke about the way his dismissal affected his fellow officers who feared that sharing their opinions would yield similar results.
“I was contacted by others who said they immediately deleted their social media accounts after I got fired out of fear that they would go through them and find something innocuous to use against them,” he said.