NORFOLK, Va. - An online newspaper reports an anonymous donation to the legal defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse is associated with the official email address of Sgt. William Kelly, who works in Internal Affairs at the Norfolk Police Department.
News 3 has not independently confirmed the information published online by The Guardian. We have reached out to police department leadership, as well as Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander and several city council members for comment.
The Norfolk Police Department released a statement from Norfolk Police Chief Larry D. Boone calling for an administrative investigation "to ensure department policies and procedures were not violated" and saying that the officer has been reassigned to a different division pending the investigation's results.
“The Norfolk Police Department’s vision is to provide a safe environment for communities, businesses, and visitors to the City of Norfolk. We value Service, Honor, Integrity, Equality, and Leadership,” Boone said. "In the face of civil unrest and social injustices, we maintain this standard and focus when serving the citizens of Norfolk through policing services and authentic community engagement. As the Chief of Police, I will continue to lead the women and men of this department to be accountable to our vision and values.
"I also empathetically recognize how recent events have heightened the fears of those we serve for themselves personally and for their loved ones. The law enforcement profession is facing a difficult juncture as recent events have revealed the significance of courageous police leadership to hold officers accountable through due process who violate department policies.
"I am aware of the allegations leveraged against an officer of this department and have directed an administrative investigation to ensure department policies and procedures were not violated.”
Mayor Alexander also released a statement calling for a report from the administration.
"The alleged statement and action by a member of Norfolk's Police Department is alarming and by all means not consistent with the values of our city or the standards set for our employees," Mayor Alexander said in a statement. "We look forward to a full report from the administration as they investigate this matter."
News 3 has not received further comment at this time.
Rittenhouse is charged with several counts, including reckless homicide, for the shooting deaths of two people and the wounding of another during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Those protests happened after a police officer shot Jacob Blake during a domestic disturbance investigation, leaving Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
The Guardian reports the anonymous donation linked to Sgt. Kelly’s account was for $25. It carried a comment saying “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.” The Guardian says it continued. “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
On Sgt. Kelly’s LinkedIn page, he lists taking over as Executive Officer of Internal Affairs in March of this year. He joined the department in 2002 at a patrol officer, and has served the department in several roles including as Executive Officer of Third Patrol Division and Officer in Charge of the K9 Unit.