Va. Supreme Court to hear case of Portsmouth officer convicted in death of unarmed teen


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A former Portsmouth police officer who was convicted in the shooting death of an unarmed teen will have his case heard by the Supreme Court of Virginia on Tuesday morning.

Stephen Rankin finished serving his two-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in November.

Rankin had responded to a shoplifting call at the Walmart on Frederick Boulevard in April 2015. That’s where he found 18-year-old William Chapman.

Some type of confrontation took place and Rankin shot Chapman. He died at the scene.

A jury found Rankin guilty in 2016 for killing Chapman.

Rankin appealed six issues, but the Virginia Supreme Court took up one.

According to the granted appeal summary, the assignment of error in the case was the admission of the statement, “It’s my second one,” that Rankin told to the Walmart security officer on TASER video.

Rankin’s attorneys called the statement “unduly prejudicial” and “irrelevant”

If Rankin’s conviction is overturned, he could be go back to trial once again.

“If the court overturns the conviction, sends it back for trial, convicted again, he could get more time than he already served,” Broccoletti said.

Chapman’s family is hoping the conviction stays and says it’s been hard for their family.

“It’s just like opening up an old wound over and over. It seems like it never goes away,” said Earl Lewis, who is Chapman’s cousin.

Lewis says he believes everyone deserves due process, but tossing out the conviction would only continue the hurt they still experience.

“We would feel hurt. That would probably be an accurate word, hurt and disappointment,” he said.

Chapman hopes the Supreme Court keeps up the conviction, but believes Rankin did not serve enough time.

If the conviction is overturned, he says the system failed his family.

“There’s nowhere in America where a man can kill someone twice and get away with it like this man has,” he said.

Chapman believes that this shows there needs to be better gun control, including at police departments.

He hopes that Virginia can pass bills that California recently passed, and is looking to pass regarding transparent police records and excessive use of force.

10 Our Your Side’s Chris Horne will be at the hearing Tuesday morning in Richmond.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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