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Judge denies change of venue motion in Rankin trial

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 17:48:28-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A judge has denied the request for a change of venue in the trial of former Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen Rankin. The defense wanted the trial continued and moved out of town because they said there have been threats on social media against Rankin.

Rankin shot and killed 18-year-old William Chapman during an incident that occurred around 7:35 a.m. on April 22, 2015 in the parking lot of the Walmart located at 1098 Frederick Blvd. in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Police were alerted by Walmart security about a suspected shoplifter. Chapman, was spotted crossing the parking lot on foot and was approached by Rankin.

During the encounter, a struggle ensued that resulted in Chapman being shot by the Rankin. Rankin immediately requested medics. Chapman died at the scene.

Chapman's body was sent to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Norfolk for examination and autopsy.

Virginia State Police took the lead role in the investigation. They were asked to investigate the case by Former Portsmouth Police Chief Ed Hargis because it was the second officer-involved shooting in Portsmouth within April 2015.

Related: Funeral held for teen shot by Portsmouth police officer

When asked about the investigation, Candy Chapman, Williams’s mother says she hopes it is done fairly but all she wants is the truth.

In August 2015, the Commonwealth's Attorney announced that they had completed their investigation into the shooting death of Chapman and announced that officials were seeking an indictment against Rankin.

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

The autopsy also stated that Chapman's pants pockets were turned inside out.

Chapman family attorney John 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."

Related: Can 15 seconds of video be the deciding factor in a police officer’s murder case?

On Tuesday morning, the judge was expected heard 11 separate motions hearings.

Earlier this month, a Portsmouth judge denied a request to delay Rankin's trial. His attorneys entered a motion to delay the trial because Rankin believes that the recent police shootings nationwide could impact the case.

Sunday, a group of protesters walked through Walmart.  They were first met with resistance, then allowed in the store.  They walked through the Walmart that William Chapman did before he walked out of the store where he was shot and killed.

Then they stood in the spot where he died.

Protest organizers are also calling for a boycott of all Walmart stores until the case is over.  They said they don't like the way they've been treated by the company since the shooting took place.

Rankin's trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday.