Officer fired over Rittenhouse donation wants his job back

Kenosha Protest Shootings
Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom to hear the verdicts in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all charges after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice. The jury came back with its verdict afer close to 3 1/2 days of deliberation. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia police officer who was fired after donating to a defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse wants his job back now that a Wisconsin jury acquitted the young man of murder during protests against police brutality last year.

Norfolk officials fired former police Lt. William Kelly in April for violating policy by using his work email to donate $25 to a Rittenhouse defense fund. But now Kelly wants to be reinstated, news outlets reported.

News organizations including The Virginian-Pilot reported that they had obtained data from a Christian crowdfunding website that was hacked, apparently showing an initially anonymous $25 donation to Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund was linked to Kelly’s work email address.

The donation carried the comment: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong,” the newspaper reported.

Rittenhouse was ultimately acquitted of murder after fatally shooting two men and wounding another at protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Kelly’s lawyer, Ray Hogge Jr., told WVEC-TV that although Kelly used his work email to donate and comment, he did not violate any department policy.

“Bill Kelly has first amendment, freedom of speech rights, which have to be honored,” Hogge said.

Kelly hopes his appeal will enable him to wear the badge again.

“Every American has the right to make comments like that and make donations to causes that they support,” Kelly told WAVY-TV. “The fact that I’m a police officer doesn’t deprive me of that right.”

Hogge said his office plans to have discussions with police department officials; they said they wouldn’t comment on a personnel matter.