Former Portsmouth Police Officer sentenced to 2.5 years for voluntary manslaughter

Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 17:06:25-04
Stephen D. Rankin

Stephen D. Rankin

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Former Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen Rankin was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for voluntary manslaughter Wednesday morning.

Court started at 9 a.m. The judge denied Rankin bond and ordered him to be locked up immediately after the sentencing.

Rankin’s lawyers say they will file an appeal, but they can’t do that until after the formal sentencing.

When he was found guilty on August 4, the jury recommended 2 and a half years, however, the judge will make the final determination.

There will likely be impact statements made before sentencing.

Rankin shot and killed 18-year-old William Chapman II 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.

Click here for all of our coverage on Chapman's death and Rankin's trial

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 police officer. The officer 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 is the second officer-involved shooting in Portsmouth within the last month.

The day after the shooting Candy Chapman, Williams’s mother spoke out about her son’s death and made an emotional statement to the public.

“That’s my son, I have to speak for him. I have to be his voice. He didn’t deserve this,” says Candy Chapman.

“I called 911 myself after I found out it was a boy that was 18. I have not seen my son for hours. I told them my son’s name, detectives came and told me yes, it was your son, and that was about seven something in the morning.”

During the press conference in April of 2015, she smiled and recalled happy memories of her son about how he loved the library and books. She described him as a compassionate person who was soft spoken and stayed out of trouble. She says she can’t believe he’d charge at an officer the way that eye witnesses described.

“If he was struggling with the officer, it’s because he was afraid. That’s the only reason. Not because he wanted to harm the officer or get some type of attention.”

She said she has four other children and William was her oldest son.

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.

On September 3, 2015 Rankin was indicted on charges of first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony by a grand jury. He was then fired by the city.

A jury found Rankin guilty of voluntary manslaughter in August 2015.

“People were convinced that he some kind of racist murdering monster that just wants to go out and kill people,” said Dawn Rankin, Stephen’s wife. Immediately after the shooting Dawn said threats began her family and her loved ones. “The day of the indictment came down we had to leave our home and we never lived in again,” said Dawn Rankin “People would gather outside of our house with the media knocking on the door.” He is scheduled to be sentenced October 12th.

“There was almost a mob mentality of a rush to judgment,” said Dawn Rankin, “Obviously, we have to have a conversation about this because what's going on in the country just isn't okay, and so we need to have this conversation. People need to hear what this is like.”