Commonwealth’s Attorney to seek indictment against officer involved in William Chapman shooting death

Posted at 6:05 PM, Aug 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-27 18:05:10-04

Portsmouth, Va. - On Thursday, the Commonwealth's Attorney announced that they've completed their investigation into the shooting death of 18-year-old William Chapman. Now officials are seeking an indictment against the officer accused of shooting and killing him.

This happened on April 22, 2015 in a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth.

They completed the investigation on August 21st.

Officials say they will seek the indictment before the next grand jury.

A witness told NewsChannel 3 the officer and Chapman had a fight. He said first the officer pulled out his Taser, but Chapman hit it out of his hand, then pulled out his gun and said something. Then the witness says Chapman lunged at him and the officer shot and killed Chapman.

Chapman's mother, Candy Chapman, told NewsChannel 3 that she was the one who reached out to police when she heard there was a shooting.

“I just heard it was a child that was 18, so when I called 911, they asked my son’s name and I said William Chapman,” she recalls.

They first needed to verify Chapman’s identity through fingerprints, which took until 4:30 in the afternoon.

They said they did not have a good address for Candy Chapman.

Chapman was shot in the face and the chest according to the medical examiner’s office. State police are not releasing what Chapman was accused of stealing from Walmart or if he had a weapon.

On Thursday, we spoke with Jon Babineau, the family's attorney.

"This was a nice young man, kind of in the prime of his life just starting out and his life was tragically taken by a person who was supposed to protect the public," says Babineau.

Sources say the officer is Stephen Rankin. After the shooting, posters were put up around Portsmouth calling for charges against him.

"The family is pleased that the wheels of justice, if you will, have turned the way we all in this country expect them to," says Babineau.

The attorney says the past four months have been tough for the family, especially his mother.

"She's a nice lady who tragically lost her son. She cries every day. She's very, very sad," says Babineau.

No other details have been released.

Friday NewsChannel 3 obtained a copy of Chapman's autopsy report.  It states that there were no drugs or alcohol found in his system when he died.  It also outlines how he was shot in the chest and the face.

It states that his pants pockets were turned inside out.

Babineau said, "It’s also interesting to note in the autopsy report that William’s pockets were turned inside out consistent with the evidence we had received that said when William was confronted he said I don’t know what you’re talking about I’m not shoplifting.”

The report also stated: "There is no evidence of close range fire to visual inspection by the medical examiner; definitive testing is deferred to the Department of Forensic Sciences."

We tried to speak to Officer Rankin Friday and he told us to get away from his house.

His lawyer Nicole Belote issued us the following statement:

"We were made aware of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s intention of presenting an indictment to the grand jury when it was publicized through various media outlets.  We are still awaiting notification regarding the charge(s) to be presented.  However, it is our hope that the grand jurors take their oath to “diligently inquire” seriously and consider all of the circumstances involved and make a decision based on the facts; it is our strong belief that if the grand jurors do so, they will agree to not return a true bill."

Babineau said the grand jury is expected to hear the facts of the case next week.

They will then decide whether Rankin will face charges.


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