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Virginia Police Chief Retires After Criticism Over Rally

FILE - Charlottesville Police Chief Al S. Thomas Jr. listens to Attorney Timothy Heaphy as he delivers an independent report on the issues concerning the white supremacist rally and protest in Charlottesville, during a news conference in Charlottesville, Va., Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

The Charlottesville police chief who was criticized over the department’s response to a violent white nationalist rally this summer is stepping down.

Police Chief Al Thomas announced his retirement Monday. A statement from the city says it’s effective immediately.

A report earlier this month was sharply critical of Thomas’ “slow-footed response” as the violence began to escalate on Aug. 12. A woman was killed that day when a car plowed into a crowd of people after the white nationalist rally.

The report also said Thomas deleted text messages and made officers fearful of retaliation for speaking with investigators.

An attorney for Thomas has said the chief disputes that he deleted text messages.