Norfolk Police ex-Lieutenant William ‘Bill’ Kelly, anonymously donated $25 to a Kyle Rittenhouse defense fund and was fired after being outed by hackers and the media. Kelly now wants his job back as Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts.
Kelly explained why he thought Rittenhouse deserved his help back then and that he stands by the decision: “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.” he continued. “I was very surprised when he was charged soon after the shooting with these murders and the shooting of the third victim.”
Alongside the donation, he wrote: ‘God Bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank-and-file police officer supports you.’
Kelly was fired and vilified by the police chief and city manager in Norfolk, who called his actions ‘egregious’ after details of his donation had been hacked by a group called ‘Distributed Denial of Secrets,’ who obtained his name and email address from the fund and provided it to the media.
His name wasn’t the only name that was published on that list in an article by The Guardian, as more cops were also donating.
“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,” said Kelly. “I wanted to make sure that he had the means necessary to make his claim in court. It mattered. 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.”
The next day, the Norfolk Police Department was receiving plenty of calls from all over the world to fire Kelly.
“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,” said Kelly.
He also talked about how if he made comments against Rittenhouse, nobody would even care: “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.”
Kelly and his wife have been living on his savings and on her salary as a school teacher through this period, but he is hoping he will be reinstated and given backpay, otherwise, he’ll lose the pension he worked almost 20 years for, and he was just ten months away from vesting for it before he got fired.