Chapman’s family attorney plans lawsuit against Portsmouth, former police chief, and Rankin

Posted at 6:23 PM, Aug 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 22:16:32-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A lawyer for William Chapman's family says they plan to file a civil lawsuit against the city, former police chief Ed Hargis, and Stephen Rankin following Rankin's conviction of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday.

Jon Babineau, the attorney for the Chapman family, claims Stephen Rankin should have never been on the streets patrolling. "People will be awestruck as to why in the world the police chief decided to keep [Rankin] as a police officer," said Babineau.

A jury recommended a 2.5 year sentence for Rankin for shooting Chapman in April 22, 2015. During the trial, Rankin said he shot Chapman in self-defense.

Babinueau said they will be asking for millions of dollars in damages. "What the Chapman family is really looking for is accountability," he said. Rankin's attorney, James Broccoletti, said they expected a civil lawsuit.

Broccoletti said they are filing an appeal and don't think Rankin got a fair trial. "We certainly think that if the jury knew the whole story about Mr. Chapman and his prior convictions and the contents of the book bag, these that were kept from the jury, I think  we'd certainly had different results," he said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales discussed the case with reporters on Friday.  "Whether they appeal or not, that's the decision for them," she said. "If they do it, we will respond accordingly and we will handle everything through the court system."

Morales said she is at peace with the way the case unfolded in court and respects the jury's decision.

She doesn't believe the case will have a negative impact on her relationship with police. "A crime has been committed. Someone is being held criminally responsible for the death of William Chapman death," she said. "That means that we did our job."

The defense said they will file an appeal after formal sentencing which is scheduled to happen October 12th.

The attorney for Chapman said they plan to file their civil lawsuit in the next few weeks.