The Virginia police lieutenant who had been fired from the department at April after anonymously donating to a fundraiser to gain Kyle Rittenhouse said his ousting arrived in just a matter of days, despite that the process typically takes months.
Norfolk Police Lt. William Kelly was only about 10 months from being a 20-year veteran of the department, at which point he would have been eligible to have received his retirement savings without a penalty. He was fired out of Norfolk Police Department in April, when he was left desperate to find affordable health insurance for himself, his spouse, who is sick with cancer, along with their three children.
"I thought I had been a free man in America expressing his personal opinion to somebody, providing a few words of encouragement and creating a simple donation," Kelly said during a Friday morning meeting with.
Rittenhouse faces a handful of criminal charges, such as murder and being in possession of a firearm as a small, after he was accused of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third through riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He's said that he fired his weapon whilst defending himself.
Kelly, 42, said he donated to a GiveSendGo accounts to gain Rittenhouse, currently 18, in the conclusion of summertime 2020. He also registered an account with his official police department email, but said his donation was anonymous.
A message contained with the donation stated:"God Bless. Thank you for your guts. You've done nothing wrong. Each rank-and-file police officer supports you. Do not be discouraged by actions of the political category of law enforcement leadership."
Kelly didn't set the donation during work hours, '' he said. He didn't hear anything regarding the contribution for months, before the dawn of Friday, April 16.
"I had been getting ready for work and I received a phone call from a fellow police officer who was working in the central desk," he remembered.
His colleague was phoning about a report published that afternoon by The Guardian, which detailed how a"data breach" revealed how Kelly, who had been a sergeant at the time, was one of police officers that had contributed to Rittenhouse's fund.
"I just read the portion which has been in relation to me, and I immediately called my boss, let him know what had happened," Kelly said.
"I didn't believe it was likely to be that big of a deal," he told Fox News. "I did not think that whatever that I said was egregious. I didn't think my opinion was outside the world of ordinary public discourse. So, I honestly did not think it was likely to be a huge thing."
Kelly stated he understood why he should not have used his work email address, however, stated with the city-issued email address was a"very common" practice among police department personnel.
Later that Friday that he had been interviewed by higher-ranking police officials and provided statements to the Internal Affairs Division, to which Kelly was delegated.
"I remember asking, until we started the announcement, what I was being researched for. And they explained that it was likely to be for having a town email accounts for personal business. And then later on, they said it might possibly be something about conduct unbecoming," he explained. "Being internal affairs, as a sergeant as lieutenant, I knew that those were not things that stopped people's professions."
By midday, he had been moved from the internal affairs to the Third Patrol Division.
"I had been told that they had to be aware of the department," Kelly continued. "I didn't object to being moved -- I understand that public perception is very important in the 21st century and also public trust is quite important."
"He was talking with the city manager on the sidewalk. I greeted him, he called me and he simply put his hands on my shoulders and didn't say anything for a while," Kelly recalled. "And then, he sort of patted my shoulder with his hand said,'Bad. We'll talk later.'"
Kelly began hearing whispers over this weekend about how he could be terminated on Monday. He predicted Boone sometime between Saturday and Sunday, but the call was delivered to voicemail, he said.
"I texted him, I told him that I only wanted to know if I was going to be fired. I advised him that when I was going to be fired. 'I'd like to know if it's likely to be immediate or if it is likely to be something that gives me the opportunity to find health insurance. I have family members with a few severe illnesses,'" he continued, as he began to choke up.
Kelly's spouse is undergoing treatment for cancer.
The chief never replied Kelly's messages returned his call. By that Monday, Kelly was from a job.
Kelly said he expected repercussions, but did not expect them to get to the level of termination -- or to emerge as swiftly as they did.
"Being in internal affairs for so long as the sergeant and then again coming back as lieutenant, I understood that Internal Affairs investigations take weeks and months and months, sometimes over a year," he said. "I understand that it takes weeks and months to go through the administrative procedure for scrutiny by different departments."
He described it as a"lengthy, protracted process." His attorney, Andrew Protogyrou, a former city council member who has represented other officers in union-related legal matters, added that typical consequences could have been"at worst, a letter of reprimand."
"So [I] was not expecting to be fired," Kelly continued. "Surely, wasn't expecting to be terminated within two working days of discovering the donation"
The police department didn't react to Fox News' request seeking comment and extra information concerning the circumstance surrounding Kelly's dismissal.
It also violates the"Virginia Law Enforcement Officers Procedural Guarantee Act," which requires specific measures, for example, ability to respond to officially alleged charges, to be provided to an officer until he or she is fired.
The grievance also comes with an image of Chief Boone holding a"Black Mirror Issue" poster in a protest in the city.
"I participated in language that was anonymous and private but became public through no fault of my own, and , when made public, angry a small number of vocal people for a very short time," Kelly said in the grievance. "The Chief of Police of Norfolk Police Department, in contract, was permitted to parade through the streets of Norfolk, wearing his Norfolk Police Department uniform, holding a'Black Lives Issue' hint whilst indicating with a crowd protesting against police and law enforcement"
Since his shooting, a GiveSendGo account has been created to benefit the Kelly family.
Irrespective of the events of this last year, Kelly said without hesitating that he'd return to work if given the opportunity to achieve that.
"I really like my job, I really like law enforcement as a profession," he explained. "It is part of who I am."