A Virginia cop, who was fired earlier this year after being exposed by hackers for making an anonymous $25 donation to the Kyle Rittenhouse defense fund, is demanding his job back, slamming the woke police chief that fired him.
Norfolk Police Lieutenant William "Bill" Kelly was fired in April of this year after it was revealed by a group of hackers that he had donated anonymously to the Give Send Go online campaign for Rittenhouse's legal team.
Kelly spoke out after the high-profile Rittenhouse "not guilty" verdict came in on Friday, explaining why he thought the young defendant deserved his help back then and why he stands by the decision now post-trial.
The 19-year veteran and father-of-three told the Daily Mail that he had spent an untold amount of time pouring over social media videos and media footage of the August 2020 Jacob Blake riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Kelly was just 10 months away from vesting for his pension when he was fired, a pension he worked almost 20 years for. Currently, his family is surviving off of savings as well as his wife's teacher salary.
"Everything I'm saying is just my personal opinion. I've been a homicide detective, a violent crimes investigator for years. I have a background. I watched the video of the shooting and I'd seen the video of the journalists of Mr. Rittenhouse before the shooting and the protesters before the shooting and I thought it painted a pretty clear picture that Mr. Rittenhouse had a very strong claim for self-defense," Kelly said. "I was very surprised when he was charged soon after the shooting with these murders and the shooting of the third victim," he added.
Kelly wrote in a note accompanying the donation: "God Bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You've done nothing wrong. Every rank-and-file police officer supports you."
He said he made sure to leave out personal details about himself to not associate himself with the police department. "I was interested in giving him the chance to defend himself in front of a jury. I know that lawyers are expensive, and it's hard sometimes to get the message out there. I wanted to make sure that he had the means necessary to make his claim in court," said Kelly.
"It mattered," he added. "The comments I made, my belief that he has a strong claim for self-defense was a personal opinion. I didn't want my city or police department to be associated with it, so I chose to donate anonymously."
"It was only after the hackers broke into it that they were able to connect those dots," he said. Kelly's identity was discovered by the hacker group called "Disturbed Denial of Secrets," who obtained his name and email address, and provided it to The Guardian, who published a story including his full name.
Following the article, Norfolk Police Department began receiving calls from around the world demanding Kelly be fired.
"It wasn't people local, it was people from all around the country who read an article and sent a nasty tweet. In the absence of that outcry, there would not have been any kind of disciplinary action against me, I'm confident," he said.
Kelly was fired back in April after the city of Norfolk decided that Kelly's comments "eroded" the public's trust in the police.
Speaking with the Daily Mail on Friday from his Norfolk home, he said that he wished the police department and city officials had waited to take action until tensions surrounding the case had calmed down:
"If people consumed as much information as I did about the case they may have come to a different conclusion. And honestly even if they did consume as much information as I did and they came to a different conclusion - that's fine."
"This is America. You can agree with your neighbors and other people in your community and you can disagree with them. Just because someone has a different opinion than you, it doesn't mean you should destroy their lives, take their job away," Kelly continued. "My opinion on the self-defense claim of Mr. Rittenhouse has no impact on my ability to do my job as a police officer."
Kelly noted that if he had made a donation to those that were killed by Rittenhouse, no action would have been taken, and it would have likely been overlooked by the public. "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," said Kelly.
He noted in his grievance filed after his firing that police chief Larry Boone had attended a Black Lives Matter protest in May of 2020 in full uniform while on duty. He is seen with a sign that included the names of people killed by police, including one killed by the Norfolk police that was still under investigation.
"The hypocrisy is dumbfounding. For the leader of our organization to be able to advocate support for a movement that is at the very least divisive in America today, in uniform while on duty... he was holding carried the name of a person who had recently been shot by a Norfolk police officer," said Kelly.
"The sign demanded justice for that person, but that shooting was still under investigation to determine whether or not that officer should be charged criminally. It's very inconsistent," Kelly continued. "Yet I cannot, off-duty, on my own time make a donation and some comments that are well within the realm of public, acceptable discourse?" he questioned.
Kelly noted that the censorship of right-wing political views is "chilling" police officers across the country, with cops feeling "disposable" unless they submit to a liberal ideology. "It made me feel disposable. Not only how it affected me, how it affected other officers. 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," said Kelly.
"I've been contacted by officers who say, 'what if Trump runs in 2024 and I put a sign for him in my front yard, can media get a hold of that? If enough people complain, will I lose my job?'" he continued.
"The effects of this kind of censorship are wide. It ripples through the entire department. It's a chilling effect," Kelly added.
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