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Charlottesville police chief retires in wake of damaging report

Free Press staff, wire reports | 12/22/2017, 2:08 p.m.
The first African-American police chief of Charlottesville abruptly retired Monday, about two weeks after a scathing independent review criticized his ...

Kevin Martingayle, an attorney for Chief Thomas, has said the chief disputes that he deleted text messages, as well as other parts of the report.

Mr. Martingayle said Monday night that Chief Thomas was not accepting interview requests. He declined to offer further comment on his behalf, except for saying that while Chief Thomas was retiring “for now,” he has not ruled out other law enforcement opportunities in the future.

A veteran of the Air Force, Chief Thomas was appointed to lead the Charlottesville department in April 2016. Before joining the Charlottesville Police Department, he had served as the police chief in Lexington since 2010. Prior to that, he spent 20 years with the Lynchburg Police Department.

Chief Thomas had not publicly discussed plans to step down or retire. He spoke earlier this month at a press conference, saying he was committed to implementing the recommendations in Mr. Heaphy’s report.

“This community needs leadership now more than ever before. It’s not a time for finger-pointing — it’s a time to come together,” he said.

Some residents had called for Chief Thomas to resign or be fired. Others said he was unfairly bearing the brunt of the criticism.

“There’s certainly more than enough blame to be passed around throughout this whole fiasco of the summer,” activist Don Gathers said at a recent Charlottesville City Council meeting.