NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — For 19 years, Lt. William Kelly called the Norfolk Police Department home.
“It was a really good career choice for me,” Kelly said. “It was great. It’s a great organization. There’s great people.”
He went from beat officer to a lieutenant in Internal Affairs. His career ended April 19.
“It was unreal,” Kelly added. “I become a police office when I was 22 years old and it was life-changing.”
Kelly was fired last month for giving money to Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense fund. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kelly’s $25 donation was done anonymously through a crowdfunding site. His name surfaced after a data breach.
“In my mind I thought it was going to blow away,” Kelly said. “We have a 24-hour news cycle and I thought I would come back to work the next week.”
Kelly found himself the national spotlight. His donation was accompanied by these words: “You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you.”
“It was a simple donation,” Kelly said. “They were simple words of encouragement from one person to another.”
But nothing about it was simple. The Norfolk city manager called the comments “egregious.”
“I thought that my comments weren’t egregious,” Kelly said. “I didn’t think they were terrible. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal.”
Kelly has filed a grievance with the city to get his job back. He’s now just waiting to have his hearing.
10 On Your Side asked Kelly if he could see why someone would take offense to what he wrote.
“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.”
As part of the grievance paperwork, Kelly and his attorney Raymond Hogge point to a picture of Chief Larry Boone in uniform marching with protesters carrying a Black Lives Matter sign.
“I’m not saying the chief was right or wrong to carry this sign,” Hogge said. “I’m saying this means the City of Norfolk allows speech by officers on political matters.”
10 On Your Side asked whether Kelly feels there’s a double standard.
“I certainly think it is inconsistent” Kelly said.
“The only real justification that I see here is that the City of Norfolk and the chief want to look ‘woke,'” Hogge said. “This all about woke.”
Both the city and police department said they couldn’t comment on a personnel matter. Kelly’s hearing date has not yet been set. He is hoping to get his job back.
“Black Lives Matter,” Hogge said. “Cops lives matter too, and when you destroy a cop’s career, then it can‘t be allowed to stand.”
Kelly says the one thing he regrets is using his city email to make the donation. He says it was wrong, but not a fireable offense.