Lt. William Kelly was fired after a data breach revealed he anonymously donated $ 25 to the legal fund of Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old charged with fatally shooting two men at a protest last summer.
He made the donation, along with a note of support proclaiming, “You’ve done nothing wrong,” according to reports. The note went on to say, “Every rank and file police officer supports you.”
Kelly was relieved of duty after an internal investigation found he violated city and department policies by sending the donation and the note.
“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve,” City Manager Chip Filer said in a statement on April 20.
In an interview with Portsmouth’s WAVY-TV Tuesday, Kelly called it “a simple donation.”
“They were simple words of encouragement from one person to another,” he said. “I thought that my comments weren’t egregious … I didn’t think they were terrible. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal.”
Kelly, who went from beat officer to a lieutenant in Internal Affairs, has filed a grievance with the city to get his job back, according to the station.
“I believe in America everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Kelly said. “I believe there is a lot of video evidence that shows a case for self-defense and I think [Rittenhouse] should have his day in court.”
Kelly and his attorney Raymond Hogge argued that a picture showed Chief Larry Boone marching in uniform with protesters while carrying a Black Lives Matter sign. When asked if Kelly felt there was a double standard, he said it was “inconsistent.”
“The only real justification that I see here is that the City of Norfolk and the chief want to look ‘woke,'” Hogge added. “This all about woke.”
Kelly noted he did regret using his city email to make the donation, according to the station. He added it was wrong, but not a fireable offense.
Kelly’s hearing date has yet to be set, WAVY-TV reported.