Portsmouth Police Officer charged with murder released from jail on bond

Posted at 11:13 AM, Sep 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-04 23:45:44-04

Portsmouth, Va. - A Portsmouth Police Officer indicted Thursday on first-degree murder charge has been granted $75,000 bond. He was released on Friday afternoon.

Stephen D. Rankin

Stephen D. Rankin

Officer Stephen Rankin was is charged for the murder in the death of 18-year-old William Chapman.

As a condition of his bond, he will not be allowed to have any firearms in his home, but his wife will be allowed to have them. All of his firearms must be surrendered to police.

Dozens of Portsmouth Police officers turned up in the courtroom on Friday morning in support of Rankin at his bond hearing. Rankin's attorney, Nicole Belote argued that their presence "speaks measures about his character."

Rankin entered the courtroom wearing the same clothes he wore when turned himself in.

Belote argued for bond to be granted, stating that Rankin has a great reputation in the community and had been awarded for "service beyond expectation." She said he has won many awards with the police department and is not a flight risk.

The Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales presented a document that stated one hour before Rankin shot and killed Chapman, he made some kind of statement, “I hate this job.  No, it's the whole world.  The city sucks but so does the rest of the world.  People are just bad.” It's unclear exactly what form that statement was made in.   Morales was making an effort to show Rankin's state of mind the day of the shooting.  She was fighting to prevent him from being released on bond and using the statement as part of her argument.

Rankin's attorney said just because someone says they hate their job does not mean they are unstable.

Belote asked Judge Johnny Morrison not to consider the document, saying it does not amount to any kind of mental instability.

The Commonwealth's Attorney asked for a substantial bond amount to be set -- no less than $200,000. Rankin's attorney asked for the bond to be no more than $25,000.

“It’s a bit more than I had requested, but under the circumstance, given the charges, if nothing else was given consideration.  I don’t believe 75,000 is completely unreasonable,” said Belote.

Rankin was suspended without pay from the Portsmouth Police Department when the intent to seek an indictment was announced last week. On Thursday after the indictment had been made, the Portsmouth City Manager sent a letter of termination for Rankin to the Portsmouth Police Department. Rankin now has five days to quit his position before his termination is effective.

The Chapman family was also present in the courtroom for the bond hearing. They tell NewsChannel 3 they are outraged and did not expect Rankin to be granted bond.

Candy Chapman was screaming as she left court.  She said Rankin is not be let out.

The next step will be for a trial date to be set which will likely happen next week. \


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