A high-ranking police officer in Virginia was fired after it was revealed he donated to the legal defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse—the Illinois teen who was charged for the murders of two people and seriously injuring a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August at a Black Lives Matter protest.
According to The Guardian, a data breach at GiveSendGo—a self-described Christian crowdfunding website—exposed the anonymous details of serving police officers and public officials who contributed money towards "campaign fundraisers for accused vigilante murderers, far-right activists and fellow officers accused of shooting Black Americans."
A police officer in Virginia who donated money to support Kyle Rittenhouse was fired, authorities say. https://t.co/SVTlCpzHPn— NBC News (@NBC News)1619026624.0
One of the police officers who donated to Rittenhouse's cause was Lieutenant William Kelly, who served as the executive officer of the Norfolk Police Department's (NPD) internal affairs division.
You can watch the news report, here.
Kelly's LinkedIn page indicated he had been with the NPD for 18 years and was the executive officer of internal affairs for the last two months.
The data breach's findings—which included information of donors who concealed their identities by using GiveSendGo's anonymous feature, but preserved by the website—were shared by the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets.
Kelly was terminated after admitting he made a $25 contribution to the teen's defense fund.
@NBCNews Good! Fired for secretly giving money to shooter who should not even have had a gun because he was not leg… https://t.co/S1UybQSmjh— Season🌻MaskUp (@Season🌻MaskUp)1619030058.0
His message to Rittenhouse at the time of the donation on September 3 read:
"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."
@shannonrwatts Fact that he thinks Rittenhouse has "done nothing wrong" is more than enough to justify incompetency… https://t.co/jj2rU5Lqzi— Lance Steel (@Lance Steel)1618967715.0
@shannonrwatts This guy killed 2 people and “every rank and file officer supports him”? Omg.— 😷Amy in CA😷 (@😷Amy in CA😷)1618967979.0
Without identifying Kelly in an original statement, Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said the Lieutenant was initially reassigned to another division pending the results of an administrative investigation.
Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer officially accepted Boone's recommendation to relieve Kelly of his duty in a follow-up statement.
"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."
"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."
@NBCNews Good, cops shouldn't be rallying behind murderous domestic terrorists— Steve (@Steve)1619029844.0
@NBCNews Dear former cop, Thoughts and prayers. Yours truly, An atheist— 💙ShV💙77💙 (@💙ShV💙77💙)1619027050.0
@NBCNews More vetting in the Police Force!— Tanya Dixon (@Tanya Dixon)1619027055.0
@NBCNews @Gwarsbane Good, I hope the door HITS him in the a$$ on the way out!— Lorna Miller 🗽🌊🇺🇸⚖ (@Lorna Miller 🗽🌊🇺🇸⚖)1619035574.0
@NBCNews Cleaning house— Alicia B. (@Alicia B.)1619032435.0
In Boone's statement announcing Kelly's firing, he said:
"A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them."
"We do not want perceptions of any individual officer to undermine the relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community."
The police did say Kelly can file a grievance and appeal the city's decision.
Throughout 2020, Rittenhouse has become a cause célèbre among far-right activists, conservative media and White supremacy groups like the Proud Boys.
They all claimed the then 17-year-old teen was well within his rights to travel from Illinois to Wisconsin which resulted in the August 25 murders of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and serious injury of Gaige Grosskreutz during a protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake—who was unarmed and shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha police officer.
That officer—who left Blake paralyzed—was also revealed as a beneficiary in the Christian crowdfunding site's data breach. The Guardian reported that 32 Kenosha police officers donated a total of over $5,000 in the officer's name.
Rittenhouse's GiveSendGo campaign was created to contribute to his legal defense and, according to the website's data, he raised $586,940 between August 27, 2020, and January 7, 2021.