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.
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 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.
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.
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