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Richmond Police Chief resigns

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 20:27:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced Richmond Police Chief William Smith has resigned from his job. Stoney named Richmond Police Major Jody Blackwell as interim chief.

"I have high expectations for the Richmond Police Department, our law enforcement. At a very minimum, I expect them to be willing to come around the table with the community to reform and reimagine public safety. So it boils down to whether the leadership of RPD embraces the change or stands in the way," Mayor Stoney said in a Tuesday press conference. "That is why, as of this morning, I requested Chief Smith's resignation, and he has tendered it."

Smith's resignation comes after weeks of protests in Richmond against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Chief Smith apologized earlier this month after Richmond Police officers launched tear gas into a crowd of peaceful protesters at the Robert E. Lee Monument on Monument Avenue. He apologized again and briefly took a knee with protesters outside Richmond City Hall on June 2.

William Smith
Richmond Police Chief William Smith, center, takes a knee along with protesters as he attempts to address a large crowd in front of City Hall, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney apologized after police, the night before, lobbed tear gas at a group of peaceful demonstrators during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Since that time, clashes between Richmond Police and protesters have been caught on video and shared on social media.

He has also made statements during press conferences that were later called into question. Statements like only violent protesters were arrested for violating city-wide curfew, the retelling of Richmond Police's response to a fire rescue, and that out-of-town agitators were to blame for most of the violent protests and riots in Richmond.

Additionally, several officers have been placed on leave pending investigations into their conduct during the protests.

Mayor Stoney called Chief Smith a "good man."

"He has served this city for very long time. He's put his heart and soul into the service of the police department and to the city. And I thank him for his service," Stoney said.

Smith was named Richmond Police Chief in June 2019. He started with the Richmond Police Department in 1995.

This is a developing story.