Police Officer Stephen Rankin Convicted of Manslaughter for Shooting William Chapman II
On Thursday, Stephen Rankin, a white former police officer, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for shooting William Chapman II, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
On the morning of April 22, 2015, employees at a Walmart in Portsmouth, Virginia called 911 to report a suspected shoplifting, the Washington Post reported. Rankin arrived at the scene and confronted Chapman in the store's parking lot. According to his own testimony, after a confrontation that the officer felt was moving toward physical violence, Rankin pulled out his taser and shocked Chapman.
"Immediately he became enraged and he became very angry," Rankin testified. The officer said the teen, who he estimated to be approximately six feet away, moved toward him combatively, taunting the policeman to shoot him. "Shoot me, motherfucker, shoot me," Rankin claimed the 18-year-old said to him in the parking lot, according to the Guardian. Rankin said the teen then charged "aggressively," which was when the policeman pulled out his Glock pistol and shot Chapman in both the chest and the face.
Several witnesses told conflicting accounts of the event, the Washington Post said, including one Walmart security worker who reported that Chapman hadn't charged the policeman, and four nearby construction workers who said the boy did charge at the officer.
The jury convicted Rankin of voluntary manslaughter, recommending a two-and-a-half year sentence for the officer.
"It's not enough," Sallie Chapman, Chapman's mother, said, the Virginia Pilot reported.
Prosecutors had requested the maximum 10-year sentence after first arguing that the officer should be charged with first-degree murder, a crime that can lead to a life sentence, according to the Virginia Pilot.
"The law does not say that because you do not comply, you have to die," prosecutor Stephanie Morales said during her closing argument on Tuesday, according to the Guardian. "The defendant brought a gun to what, at worst, was a fistfight," she said.