Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas resigned Monday following criticism that he and his department had been woefully ill-prepared to handle the August Unite The Right rally.
The decision comes just 17 days after the release of a damning 207-page report by former U.S. district attorney Tim Heaphy, The Washington Post reported Monday. The report indicated that police were poorly trained for handling the protest and failed to implement an effective plan. The police fumble resulted in the death of one counter protester, who was struck by a speeding car. Police also suffered two fatalities after a law enforcement helicopter crashed in the vicinity of the protest.
“Nothing in my career has brought me more pride than serving as the police chief for the city of Charlottesville,” Thomas said in a press release. “I will be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to protect and serve a community I love so dearly. It truly has been an unparalleled privilege to work alongside such a dedicated and professional team of public servants. I wish them and the citizens of Charlottesville the very best.”
According to the report, Thomas ordered police to let the alt-right, KKK, and neo-nazi protesters clash with counter-protesters briefly, claiming it would then be easier for his department to declare an unlawful assembly. Thomas, however, denies ever telling his officers to “let them fight.”
The report also claims that city and state police were unable to communicate during the protest because they were on different radio channels, according to CBS news.
“He is a man of integrity who has provided critical leadership for our department since his arrival,”City Manager Maurice Jones said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Thomas has served as the chief of police since 2016. He was also the city’s first black police chief. The city has already begun searching for a new chief, and Jones is expected to appoint an interim head next week, WaPo reported.
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