Charlottesville Police Chief Resigns After Criticism Over White Nationalist Rally

Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas speaks at a press conference Aug. 12, 2017.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

The police chief of Charlottesville, Virginia, resigned effectively immediately on Monday, just weeks after a critical review of his department's response to a white nationalist rally over summer was published.

Alfred Thomas did not address the independent report in announcing his resignation, saying only that “nothing in my career has brought me more pride than serving as the police chief for the city of Charlottesville.”

The report, released 17 days ago by former US Attorney Tim Heaphy, found that Thomas' department “failed miserably” in protecting free speech and public safety at the “Unite the Right” rally in August.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman protesting against hundreds of white nationalists, was killed when a man drove a car through a crowd of counter protesters. The driver, James Alex Fields, Jr., has been charged with first-degree murder.

Heaphy's report said that in addition to the Charlottesville Police Department's slow and inadequate response, the chief allegedly attempted to hide communications related to the rally from the investigation.

State police and Charlottesville police were also unable to communicate by radio the day of the rally because they were on different channels, the report stated. And the decision to not intervene in all but the most serious confrontations only emboldened violent demonstrators, Heaphy's report said.

Still, city manager Maurice Jones praised Thomas's record in a statement, calling him “a man of integrity.”

Thomas, who had been police chief since May 2016, was the first black man to hold the position, according to C-Ville Weekly.

Jones will appoint the next police chief “within the week,” according to the city's statement.

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