Va. Police Officer Indicted in Shooting Death of Unarmed Teen

Stephen Rankin; William Chapman ll
CBS News Screenshot
Stephen Rankin; William Chapman ll
CBS News Screenshot

A grand jury has decided to indict a Virginia police officer who shot and killed an unarmed teen in a Wal-Mart parking lot, the Associated Press reports.

Advertisement

Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen D. Rankin was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and using a gun in a felony in the shooting death of 18-year-old William Chapman II, who was killed April 22.

According to the report, Nicole Belote, who is representing Rankin, said that she was surprised by the indictment on first-degree murder, saying, "The facts do not support such a charge.

"We will continue to prepare for trial and zealously defend Officer Rankin," she told the Virginian-Pilot, according to AP.

Chapman was suspected of shoplifting at the Wal-Mart store, prompting police response. Rankin fired his weapon at the teen twice, claiming that he had resisted arrest.

This is reportedly not Rankin's first time killing an unarmed suspect. In 2011 he was cleared of the 2011 shooting death of Kirill Denyakin. Rankin claimed that the Kazakhstani national charged at him and would not take his hand out of his pants. Denyakin was shot 11 times. Rankin was cleared after evidence showed that Denyakin had almost three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system and had a history of making violent threats, NBC News notes.

According to AP, the autopsy showed that Chapman was shot once in the face and once in the chest. His body was transported to the medical examiner's office with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Advertisement

"Clearly the evidence and the facts, which we have not seen, are of such a significance that the commonwealth's attorney sought the first-degree-murder indictment, which as an essential element includes premeditation," Jon Babineau, an attorney for the Chapman family, said. "Premeditation involves someone thinking about what they are going to do before they do it."

Rankin surrendered Thursday afternoon. After the indictment, Police Chief Dennis Mook released a statement saying that Rankin had been "terminated."

Advertisement

Read more at Fox News and NBC News.

DISCUSSION