William Chapman’s family believes that his case is akin to that of Michael Brown.
However, unlike Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., in August, Chapman’s April 22 death barely made a wave among activists and the media, The Guardian reports.
“I feel alone,” Chapman’s mother, Sallie, told the news site. “Because my son is gone and because nobody is trying to help me understand why.”
The 18-year-old, who was unarmed, was suspected of shoplifting and was shot dead following an altercation with Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen Rankin, who in 2011 shot and killed another unarmed man, according to the site.
Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said that the cause of Chapman’s death was “gunshot wounds of face and chest.”
On April 22 of this year, Chapman was believed to have shoplifted in a Wal-Mart, prompting police response. Rankin fired his weapon twice after the teen allegedly resisted arrest in the superstore parking lot.
Construction workers near the area saw the altercation and told local reporters that the 18-year-old did break free from the officer during an attempted arrest. One worker claimed that the teen “took a couple steps toward the cop like he was ready to fight.”
The Guardian notes, however, that authorities have not said whether Chapman actually stole anything; nor have they confirmed Rankin’s identity. The news site learned of the officer’s identity through the executive director of the Virginia chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, Sean McGowan.
The police reportedly did not actively reach out to Sallie Chapman to deliver the news of her son’s death. The concerned mother instead became anxious after not being able to reach him that day and hearing reports that an 18-year-old had been killed at their local Wal-Mart. She called 911, giving her son’s name, before she was placed on hold and then told that a detective would come by. The detective arrived shortly afterward to tell her that her son was dead.
Sallie Chapman said that the police have not given her any explanation, and when she went to the Wal-Mart asking for more information about what the teen allegedly stole and exactly what happened, she said that management called the police to remove her.
“My son is gone, and I just want to know why,” the grieving mother said. “Why can’t I see the Wal-Mart surveillance video? I’m his mother.”
Although the teen’s funeral service was conducted last month, he has still not been laid to rest because his family cannot afford the $3,600 burial fee.
Read more at The Guardian.