Virginia Officer Accused of Murdering Unarmed Black 18-Year-Old Tells Witness, 'This Is My Second One'

“This is my second one” said Virginia police officer Stephen Rankin to a witness after he shot and killed an unarmed black 18-year-old in the town of Portsmouth last year, a court was told Tuesday.


The quote was provided courtesy of a Taser camera attached to Rankin at the time. The officer uttered this sentiment while standing beside a Walmart employee in the store’s parking lot moments after he’d shot the victim, William Chapman, in the head and chest. 

As the Guardian reports, this piece of evidence almost never made it to court. During the final pretrial hearing before Rankin stands before a Portsmouth circuit court jury for first-degree murder, his defense team argued that the comment should be censored as it didn’t serve to prove anything. The motion was denied by Judge Johnny E. Morrison.

According to the police report, the killing took place after Rankin, a U.S. navy veteran, tried to arrest Chapman on suspicion of shoplifting. Following a brief physical struggle Rankin claims the 18-year-old provoked, the officer fired his gun. Rankin is subsequently denying the charge against him, pleading he acted in self-defense.

Given this version of events, the prosecution argued for the need not to “sanitize the evidence” that could prove Rankin acted otherwise. “The defendant made the comment not just in the presence and earshot of a witness, but to the witness,” said Stephanie Morales, the prosecuting attorney heading up the case against Rankin.

Rankin’s previous use of deadly force was dismissed by a grand jury in 2011. In that instance, Rankin similarly shot an unarmed suspect 11 times, claiming the man had reached into his waistband and charged at him. Morrison has already ruled that prosecutors could not bring up the prior case.

In another ruling Morrison made Tuesday, the defense’s attempts to censor Rankin’s prior shooting may prove null and void. Rankin’s defense attorneys requested that the jurors be sequestered during the trial to ensure they did not have access to external information. Morrison promptly rejected the request.

It was a nice try at least.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.