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Norfolk police officer who was fired for donating to Rittenhouse defense fund requests job back

Former Lt. William Kelly donated money to the defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse with his work email. A few months later, he was relieved of duty.

NORFOLK, Va. — Former Norfolk police Lieut. William Kelly is demanding his job back in the wake of a Wisconsin jury acquitting 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges connected to the shooting of three men during a protest.

Chief Larry Boone and the Norfolk City Manager fired Kelly for violating policy, after Kelly used his work email to donate $25 to a defense fund for Rittenhouse. At the time of the donation, Kelly wrote, in part, "You did nothing wrong."

Kelly initially was put on administrative duty when reports surfaced that an anonymous donation made to Rittenhouse had been linked to Kelly's city email address. Eventually, the city manager advised the department to relieve him of duty.

Following the high-profile verdict, William Kelly's lawyer, Ray Hogge Jr., said the former Norfolk police officer felt he had to speak up.

"He wants to be reinstated," said Hogge. "In fact, that's the only way he can be vindicated."

Hogge said though 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," said Hogge. "They are not dependent on the opinion of any segment of the population of whether they agree with his position or opinions, or not."

RELATED: Norfolk police officer relieved of duty

Leaders with the NAACP Norfolk are among those who disagree when it comes to Kelly getting his job back.

"To us, he's not even trying to think about the impact he is having or had on our community, especially during a time when African-Americans were having grievances about their relationships and trust factors with the Norfolk Police Department in the first place," said NAACP Norfolk branch President, Stacie Armstead.

Armstead said reinstating Kelly wouldn't improve the relationships, especially any that he has with the community.

"When you're talking about gaining trust from the public, we just don't see how he'll be able to do that," Armstead said.

Hogge filed an employee grievance against the police department earlier this year. He said if the department doesn't reinstate Kelly, his law office will file a federal lawsuit, which he said he hopes he won't have to do.

Hogge said his office is currently in contact with the NPD and plans to have discussions with officials there.

13News Now reached out multiple times to Norfolk police about the situation, but we haven’t gotten a response.