Former Interim Richmond Police Chief returns after $5 million wrongful termination suit settled

Posted at 11:09 PM, May 04, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond Police major, who served as interim chief for 11 days in 2020, is returning to the department with his last ranking. Major William "Jody" Blackwell dropped a $5 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the city and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, his attorney said.

Blackwell agreed to withdraw the lawsuit, including all the allegations and claims made within it, to return to RPD as a major, his attorney confirmed.

Blackwell served as interim chief for 11 days in 2020, which is where the germ of the now-withdrawn lawsuit began.

Blackwell claimed that Mayor Stoney asked RPD to protect contractors who were set to remove Confederate monuments in Richmond, after weeks of social justice protests in the city.

The lawsuit said Blackwell believed the order violated state law as written during that period of time in June 2020.

Stoney asked for and received Blackwell's resignation as interim chief shortly after the exchange, the lawsuit said, and after a change in state law that July gave localities the broader authority to remove confederate statues, the city began removing them.

Blackwell alleged he was fired eight months later when the new chief Gerald Smith said he was taking the department in a new direction, but Blackwell claimed it was retaliation.

There is no word on when Blackwell plans to return to RPD in an official capacity.

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