Unarmed Black Teen Shot by Police Officer in Portsmouth


Marquise Brown | Contributing Writer

Portsmouth- On April 22, 2015, Portsmouth police officer, Stephen Rankin shot and killed 18-year-old teen, William Chapman in Portsmouth, Virginia while in a Walmart parking lot. Chapman, who was unarmed during the shooting, was shot in the face and chest. Medical Examiner, Donna Price ruled the shooting a homicide.

A few months before the shooting occurred, Chapman just left a group home and went to live with his mom on Gilmerton Avenue. “He was away for awhile until I got myself together,” Sallie Chapman, mother of William, told The Virginian-Pilot in an interview. She said she hadn’t heard from her son all day on Wednesday, calling 911 to report him missing around 6 p.m. that evening.

Portsmouth police received a call from WalMart around 7:18 a.m. on March 22 saying that there was a suspected shoplifter. Officer Stephen Rankin arrived on the scene at 7:32 a.m. meeting Chapman in the parking lot. Witnesses say that Chapman was shot after a struggle between Officer Rankin.

Chapman was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. After the killing, witnesses reported that Chapman resisted the arrest and was running towards Rankin as the officer fired shots at him. This is the second police-involved murder in Portsmouth this year.

Stephen Rankin, a White Police Officer has been involved in two killing incidents. Back in 2011, Rankin reportedly killed 26-year-old unarmed Kirill Denyakin. According to The Guardian, the autopsy found that Rankin shot Denyakin 11 times. Residents in the city voiced their thoughts about the shooting in the comments section of a local newspaper site.

One screen name, ‘yourealythinkthat’ commented, “What is the difference if it was one round or 11 rounds or 111 rounds?” The statement went on saying, “When I was in Iraq, that would have been a good shot, in fact, nobody would have really given it a second thought.”

The United States Navy Veteran, Rankin, admitted that the screen name was him after speaking under oath six months later in the section. Rankin has been identified as a 35-year-old, trained in martial arts while in the Navy. He was once disciplined for posting violent remarks of Nazi images online.

“It never should have happened,” Sallie Chapman told WAVY News 10. “I have to bury my son, my son is supposed to bury me.” Chapman’s mother has claimed that her son’s hands were hurt so badly that the funeral workers refused to lay them across his chest. The Portsmouth Police Department is conducting an investigation separate into the officer’s actions whether if they followed the police department policy.

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