RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority now has an interim police chief. This, after NBC12 first broke the story that Chief Hal Hazelton was put on administrative leave without any explanation.
At an already scheduled meeting, RRHA commissioners almost immediately went into closed session to discuss "a personnel matter" Wednesday night.
NBC12 spoke with the new man in charge, Sgt. Fran Dumansky, by phone. He also didn't have many answers. Sgt. Dumansky says RRHA only told him he was going to be the interim chief. Leaders wouldn't say why or what happened with Chief Hazelton.
Multiple sources tell NBC12 the longtime chief was placed on administrative leave this weekend without explanation. Some say the confusion puts many people on edge in some of Richmond's most dangerous communities, in one of which there was a homicide just Tuesday night.
It seems many people have been left in the dark in this situation.
We went looking for answers. We talked to the chair of the board of commissioners before the meeting Wednesday. When asked if he knows who is in charge of the police department he replied, "Actually, I don't."
Commissioner Jonathan Coleman directed us to the media relations department. When asked if he thinks the people living in RRHA communities should know who is in charge of security, he responded, "absolutely."
Meanwhile, for the first time we are hearing from Joel Addison, the RRHA police corporal, who says he was wrongfully terminated after a phone call from an agency leader. In that conversation, Addison maintains he was asked who he is in a relationship with. Addison refused to answer, but he tells NBC12 he's seeing a white woman.
"As a corporal in the department, I know the rules and policies you cannot ask me this anything about my personal life," he recalled. "At that point she said 'well, if you're not going to answer my question, you're terminated.'"
Addison says he went right to his boss, Chief Hazelton.
"He said 'fired by whom, because I don't know anything about it,'" Addison relayed. "At that point, I just went ahead and explained to him about the phone call, and the only thing I know after that is that he tried to go to bat for me I guess you could say."
We asked an RRHA spokesperson for confirmation Sgt. Dumansky was in charge of the department. Osita Iroegbu said, "The RRHA Police Department's second-in-command, Sergeant Francis Dumansky, is currently performing the administrative management duties of the police department, reporting directly to RRHA's chief executive officer. The police department's day-to-day operations continue as normal. While it would be inappropriate to comment on specific personnel matters, the RRHA is committed to a diverse workforce and places the highest priority on diversity, inclusion and its mission to serve. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, gender, religion, sexual preference or any other basis prohibited by law."
NBC12 went down to Chief Hazelton's house on Wednesday. We have not heard back from him yet.