Virginia officer fired after donating to Kyle Rittenhouse draws thousands in donations from Christian site

Virginia officer fired after donating to Kyle Rittenhouse draws thousands in donations from Christian site
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A former Virginia police officer who was fired after donating to a legal defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse and expressing support for his actions has since drawn thousands in donations from supporters through a Christian crowdfunding site.

So far, a fundraiser set up through GiveSendGo has raised more than $46,000 for the former officer, William Kelly, with a goal of $50,000 in total. 

The news comes a week after Kelly was fired from his job following reports of a data breach involving the same site that revealed the email addresses of donors who contributed to a legal defense fund for Rittenhouse.

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Rittenhouse, a white man from Illinois, currently faces homicide and firearm charges after he was accused of fatally shooting two Black Lives Matters demonstrators at a protest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., in August. He was 17 at the time of the shooting and is now 18.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this year after previously arguing he had acted in self-defense during the protest.

His case gained national attention last year after a number of prominent conservatives threw support behind him while touting gun rights and as the country reckoned with race following months of protests ignited by the police killing of George Floyd.

Kelly was among those who made anonymous donations to the defense fund for Rittenhouse last year. The former officer also left a comment along with his donation expressing support for the then-teenager. 

“God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong,” Kelly wrote in the comment. “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”

Reports that surfaced of the donation from earlier this month prompted calls for Kelly’s resignation soon after.

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Officials said the former officer was eventually fired last week.

“I have reviewed the results of the internal investigation involving Lt. William Kelly,” Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer said in a statement obtained by local media. “Chief Larry Boone and I have concluded Lt. Kelly’s actions are in violation of City and departmental policies.”

“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve. The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable,” Filer also said.

Boone also released a statement regarding the matter at the time.

“A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them,” he said last week. “We do not want perceptions of any individual officer to undermine the relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community.”