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Police officer charged with first degree murder

Reprint from wthitv.com

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A judge set the bond for former Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen Rankin at $75,000 during a Friday hearing. Rankin must also surrender his personal guns.

Officer Rankin was indicted on a first degree murder charge Thursday for the April shooting death of 18-year-old William Chapman.

Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales and the mother of 18-year-old William Chapman spoke Thursday on the indictment of Officer Rankin.

 Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen Rankin
Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen Rankin

“It is paramount for everyone to respect the judicial process,” said Morales at Thursday’s news conference.

Rankin was indicted Thursday for first degree murder in the death of Chapman, according to court paperwork. He was also charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Rankin turned himself in Thursday evening and is expected to appear in court for a bond hearing and a determination of council Friday at 9:30 a.m.

WAVY has confirmed Rankin was given five days to resign or he will be terminated.

DOCUMENT: Officer Rankin Indictment

In April, Chapman was suspected of having shoplifted from the Wal-Mart on Frederick Boulevard. Security then alerted police of an alleged shoplifter leaving the store. Chapman, who was walking across the store parking lot, was approached by a Portsmouth officer, said Virginia State Police.

Multiple witnesses told police the man and the officer started to struggle. At some point during the altercation, VSP said the officer shot Chapman. The officer immediately called for medical rescue, but Chapman died at the scene. Chapman’s remains were taken to the office of the Medical Examiner in Norfolk who ruled the death a homicide. According to the Medical Examiner, Chapman was shot in the face and in the chest. However, they would not comment on how many times he was shot.

One day after her son was shot and killed, Sallie Chapman addressed the media. The Portsmouth mother has defended her son since day one. Chapman has said accusations that her son shoplifted and was aggressive were not in his character.

Video: Commonwealth’s Attorney discusses indictment

“It never should have happened,” Chapman said on April 23.

William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman's family).
William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman’s family).

Chapman said on Thursday she was excited, relieved, and grateful the case involving Rankin and her son will move forward.

“If you’re a police officer, that doesn’t give you the right to do anything,” said Chapman. “All lives matter and you had no right to take him away.”

Court paperwork says the grand jury found that Rankin did “willfully, deliberately and with premeditation kill and murder William Lester Chapman II.” Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Portsmouth Stephanie N. Morales said Thursday during a press conference that the office will not be disclosing any evidence or results from the State Police investigation as this is an active case.

DOCUMENT: Portsmouth police chief statement

Rankin’s attorney, Nicole Belote, told 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox the Commonwealth’s Attorney will be recommending Rankin be held with no bond.

Belote said she and her team have been preparing a defense for months. Although, she said they were surprised by a first degree murder charge.

“It’s our belief that the facts do not at all support a charge of first degree murder,” Belote said late Thursday night. “But, it doesn’t change the evidence we will present and the defense we will put on.”

“The officer is a man first and has broken the rules of the law and killed again and he should be responsible for being so careless and just plain heartless.

“I am so happy that I feel sick. My son can now be at peace. Thank you Lord,” – Sallie Chapman, William Chapman’s mother.

During the press conference Thursday, Chapman’s mother thanked everyone for being supportive and standing behind her family during this incident. “Anyone who does wrongdoing needs to get punished,” said Chapman. “Justice has been served.”

DOCUMENT: NAACP statement on indictment

After a four month investigation by Virginia State Police, Morales announced the investigation was completed Aug. 21 and that she would seek an indictment before the next grand jury.

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