Virginia Police Chief Retires After Criticism Over Charlottesville Rally - NBC Connecticut
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Virginia Police Chief Retires After Criticism Over Charlottesville Rally

In a brief statement, the city did not give a reason for Chief Al Thomas' departure



    Car Plows Into Crowd After Charlottesville 'Alt-Right' Rally

    One person died and more than a dozen were injured when a car slammed into a crowd after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. News4's Derrick Ward reports from Charlottesville. (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    Charlottesville's police chief, who oversaw the department's widely criticized response to a violent white nationalist rally this summer, abruptly retired Monday.

    In a brief statement, the city did not give a reason for Chief Al Thomas' departure, which was effective immediately.

    "Nothing in my career has brought me more pride than serving as the police chief for the city of Charlottesville," Thomas said in the statement. "I will be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to protect and serve a community I love so dearly."

    Thomas was the city's first African-American police chief, The Daily Progress has reported.

    Charlottesville Community Sings at Candlelight Vigil

    [NATL] Charlottesville Community Sings at Candlelight Vigil

    Members of the Charlottesville community gathered at the University of Virginia campus Wednesday evening for a candlelight vigil to help bring peace after the deadly events in the Virginia city over the weekend.

    (Published Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017)

    Earlier this month, a former federal prosecutor rereleased a report that was sharply critical of Thomas' "slow-footed response" as the violence began to escalate on Aug. 12, the day of the "Unite the Right" rally that drew hundreds of white nationalists from across the county.

    A woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were peacefully protesting the white nationalists.

    The report also said Thomas deleted relevant text messages and made officers fearful of retaliation for speaking with investigators.

    Kevin Martingayle, an attorney for Thomas, has said the chief disputes that he deleted text messages. Martingayle didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday.

    City Manager Maurice Jones called Thomas "a man of integrity who has provided critical leadership for our department since his arrival."

    "We wish him all the best in his future endeavors," he said.

    Chaos at Charlottesville City Council Meeting

    [NATL] Chaos at 1st Charlottesville City Council Meeting Since Violent Rally

    A protest erupted inside the Charlottesville city council chambers on Monday, Aug. 22, as councilors held their first meeting since the deadly rally over the city's Confederate statue on Aug. 12, 2017. The crowd screamed at councilors and eventually took over the meeting, which caused for police intervention.

    (Published Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017)

    Deputy Police Chief Gary Pleasants will guide the department until an interim chief is formally appointed within the next week, the city's statement said.

    A veteran of the Air Force, Thomas was appointed police chief in April 2016 and began his service the following month, according to the statement.

    Before joining the Charlottesville Police Department, Thomas had served as the police chief in Lexington, Virginia, since 2010. Prior to that, he spent 20 years with the Lynchburg Police Department.

    Thomas had not publicly discussed plans to step down or retire.