Black teenager accused of shoplifting at Walmart killed in April by white officer Stephen Rankin, who had been suspended for shooting another unarmed man. Neo-Nazi officer had posted Nazi images on line and disparaged victim he had killed earlier. His superiors were warned that the killer cop was "dangerous."
|Officer Stephen Rankin was known to be a neo-Nazi before he killed William Chapman (left).|
An unarmed black 18-year-old accused of shoplifting was killed by a police officer in Virginia who had been barred from patrolling city streets for almost three years after fatally shooting another unarmed man.
William Chapman was shot dead by Stephen Rankin, a white Portsmouth police officer, during a struggle in a Walmart parking lot. Rankin, 35, a US navy veteran trained in martial arts, was once disciplined for posting violent remarks and Nazi images online.
Family, NAACP speak about William Chapman
Chapman’s family likened his death to that of Michael Brown, another unarmed black 18-year-old who was suspected of a theft and shot dead following a struggle with a white officer. Brown’s death last year in Ferguson unleashed nationwide protests.
But they noted with disappointment that Chapman’s killing in April barely registered among activists and the media. “I feel alone,” said Chapman’s mother, Sallie. “Because my son is gone and because nobody is trying to help me understand why.”
The Virginia chief medical examiner’s office said in a statement only that the cause of Chapman’s death was “gunshot wounds of face and chest”. Chapman’s mother said his hands were also wounded in the encounter, a claim supported by photographs of his body reviewed by the Guardian.
Chiefs only allowed Rankin to return to frontline policing in March last year, almost three years after he killed an unarmed 26-year-old Kazakh immigrant in February 2011. Rankin was later found to have insulted the man and his family in other online postings.
A sergeant in the department at the time told the Guardian that senior commanders were formally warned by one of Rankin’s supervisors weeks before his first fatal shooting that he was “dangerous” and likely to cause someone harm.