Stephen Rankin: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Stephen Rankin

Stephen Rankin. (Portsmouth Police)

A white Virginia police officer has been indicted by a grand jury on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting of an unarmed black teen in April.

Court records show that Portsmouth officer Stephen Rankin, 36, was indicted Thursday in the death of 18-year-old William Chapman.

Rankin was arraigned Friday after turning himself in Thursday night. He has been fired by the Portsmouth Police Department.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Chapman Was Shot in the Head in a Walmart Parking Lot From Several Feet Away

William Chapman, Stephen Rankin

William Chapman (Family photo)

William Chapman was fatally shot in the head in a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth on April 22. An autopsy acquired by The Guardian showed that Chapman was shot from several feet away.

Police said Chapman was suspected of shoplifting from the Portsmouth store.


2. Rankin Was Off the Streets for 3 Years After Fatally Shooting Another Unarmed Man

Rankin was previously investigated after fatally shooting a 26-year-old unarmed man, Kirill Denyakin, in 2011. Rankin was suspended for three years, but was not indicted in that case.

Denyakin, a chef, was shot 11 times, according to the Virginian Pilot. A jury in a civil lawsuit also cleared Rankin of wrongdoing in that case.


3. His Attorney Says’the Facts Do Not Support’ a Murder Charge

Rankin’s attorney, Nicole Belote, told the Virginian-Pilot that the “facts do not support” a first-degree murder charge, and said she was surprised by the grand jury decision. She said they were preparing for trial to defend Rankin.

An attorney for the Chapman family told the newspaper the charges are unprecedented.

“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 said.


4. After the Last Fatal Shooting, He Posted on Facebook Defending His Actions While Using a Fake Name

According to The Guardian, Rankin posted on social media using a pseudonym after the shooting of Denyakin.

He admitted he used the screen name “yourealythinkthat,” on a local news station’s website, “What’s the difference if it was one round or 11 rounds or 111 rounds? When I was in Iraq, that would have been a good shoot. In fact, nobody would have really given it a second thought.”


5. He Is a Navy Veteran Who Served in Iraq

Rankin, a California native, served in the Navy, including time in Iraq. He left the military in 2007 and joined the Portsmouth Police Department that same year.

9 Comments

9 Comments

jordan

this is usually the other side of the coin. the thug gets out of prison only to repeat offend.

Lawrence H Baranski Jr

Their is always two sides to the story. Hold judgement until the truth is brought forward.