Facing public calls to resign for weeks, Richmond police chief ousted

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Following a tumultuous two weeks that involved clashes between protesters, rioters and officers within the Richmond Police Department, comes Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s decision to push out former Chief William Smith.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon Stoney said, “as of this morning I have requested Chief Smith‘s resignation and he has tendered it.”

Ousted after multiple incidents where Richmond police officers clashed with demonstrators, now-former police Chief William Smith faced backlash from those gathered outside city hall at the start of June.

People there to hear an apology from Mayor Stoney after peaceful protesters were tear-gassed at the Robert E. Lee Monument.

Smith took responsibility, saying on June 2, “We have made mistakes. I apologize for the mistakes that we have made, and I said with the mayor last night but I am ultimately the one who is responsible.”

Later that afternoon 8News reporter Ben Dennis asked Mayor Stoney if Smith might face consequences.

“Any possible disciplinary measures for the chief himself?” he asked.

“No, I mean, right now the chief is helping me fine get to the bottom of everything that was involved here. That’s what we’re gonna do. I want everyone to know this is a good chief. He’s a man with a heart,” Stoney replied.

Fast forward to developments over the past week: more violence in the city, stand-offs between police and demonstrators, a skirmish involving a police vehicle back at the Lee monument, and events coming to a head outside police headquarters.

During his announcement about Smiths’ resignation, Stoney said, “we have a good police department in the city of Richmond, I truly believe that. But I also believe we can be better.”

Richmond Police have indicated over the past two weeks some officers have faced discipline following incidents in the city. 

While Mayor Stoney says there is no timeline set to pick a new chief, as Interim Chief William Jody Blackwell takes the reigns, he says there will be a national search for the department’s next leader.

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