Judge denies bond for former Portsmouth police officer found guilty of killing teen

Posted at 5:11 AM, Jan 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-29 17:27:13-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The former Portsmouth police officer found guilty of killing an unarmed teen will stay behind bars during his appeal process.

A judge denied bond for Stephen Rankin Monday, who has been behind bars for more than a year now. His attorneys argued he should get a bond during the process, especially in light of some positive news in their appeal.

"We didn't expect some grand thing to happen, but the answer is always no if you don't ask the question," said Dawn Rankin, Stephen's wife, after the hearing.

Rankin was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in 2016 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Rankin shot and killed William Chapman,  an unarmed teen, after getting called to Walmart in April 2015. At the time, Rankin was a police officer and he was investigating the report of shoplifting. A confrontation happened and Rankin shot Chapman, but Rankin maintains it was self-defense.

Rankin's attorneys are appealing his conviction, which could result in a new trial.  The Court of Appeals agreed with his defense in part on two issues, including allegations that a juror had a conversation with a person who supported the Chapman family.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’ Office said they hope the court will affirm the defendant's conviction. Chapman's family opposed his bond on Monday. "You did the crime. Do your time," said Earl Lewis, the Chapman family spokesman.

A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for next week. For now, Rankin is serving his time at a prison in central Virginia. "He's adapted to life in prison and I've adapted to life going to visit him," Dawn said. "We're just waiting for it to end."