BLACK VOICES

Virginia Cop Convicted In Death Of Black Teen William Chapman II

Stephen Rankin was charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the April 2015 death of William Chapman II.
Police officer Stephen Rankin is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the A
Police officer Stephen Rankin is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the April 2015 death of 18-year-old William Chapman II in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Portsmouth, Va.

A jury convicted a former Portsmouth, Virginia, police officer of voluntary manslaughter on Thursday for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager last year, a court spokeswoman said.

The ex-officer, Stephen Rankin, 36, had been charged with shooting William Chapman II, 18, in April 2015 while investigating a shoplifting report at a Walmart.

Rankin, who faces up to 10 years in prison, was fired by the police department after his grand jury indictment.

The conviction in Portsmouth Circuit Court comes amid a roiling U.S. debate over police use of deadly force, especially against African-Americans.

Sallie Chapman, center, stands in the courtroom after the verdict was read in the trail of former police officer Stephen Rank
Sallie Chapman, center, stands in the courtroom after the verdict was read in the trail of former police officer Stephen Rankin, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, in Portsmouth, Va.

Prosecutors had charged Rankin, who is white, with first-degree murder and a weapons violation. The jury comprising eight African-Americans and four whites found him guilty of the lesser manslaughter charge, the spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors argued that Rankin killed Chapman in what had amounted to little more than a fist fight in a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, about 175 miles south of Washington.

Rankin testified that Chapman repeatedly ignored his commands and when he tried to handcuff him he attempted to escape.

He said Chapman knocked a Taser out of his hands and charged at him before he fired. Chapman was shot once in the face and in the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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