Unarmed 18-year-old Killed by Police Officer
An unarmed 18-year-old Virginia teen accused of shoplifting was killed by a police officer who had been banned from patrolling city streets for almost three years after fatally shooting another unarmed man.
In April, William Chapman was fatally wounded by Stephen Rankin, a white Portsmouth police officer, during an altercation in a Walmart parking lot. Rankin, 35, was once disciplined for posting violent remarks and Nazi images online, according to The Guardian.
Chapman’s family compared his death to that of Michael Brown, another unarmed Black teen shot dead following a struggle with a white police officer. Brown’s August 2014 death unleashed nationwide protests.
Chapman’s death was publicly overshadowed by that of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was killed in Baltimore three days earlier.
His family noted with disappointment that Chapman’s killing in April barely registered among activists and the media. “I feel alone,” said Chapman’s mother, Sallie. “Because my son is gone and because nobody is trying to help me understand why.”
Police wouldn’t say whether or not Chapman actually was found to be shoplifting. They won’t even confirm that Rankin was the officer who shot him. But the head of Rankin’s professional association told The Guardian that he was indeed the officer involved.
Rankin fired twice after Chapman resisted arrest at the edge of the superstore parking lot on April 22 and a struggle ensued, according to a witness. The officer was responding to a complaint of “suspected shoplifting.”
The shooting is being investigated by the Virginia state police. Investigators are expected to pass their completed inquiry on the shootings to the state’s Commonwealth Attorney, Stephanie Morales. Morales will then decide whether or not to put the case to a grand jury for a possible criminal prosecution.