Virginia police officer indicted for murder in April shooting

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 3:55 PM

(Reuters) - A grand jury on Thursday indicted a white police officer of Portsmouth, Virginia, for first-degree murder in the shooting of a black teenager.

The officer, Stephen Rankin, shot William Chapman II, 18, on April 22, according to the one-page indictment from the Portsmouth grand jury. Rankin was also charged with a firearm violation.

Police and prosecutors have given few details about the shooting and the police department did not respond to a request for comment.

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, a local newspaper, reported that Chapman was shot at about 7:30 a.m. in a Walmart parking lot. An autopsy report said he was shot once in the face and in the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene, the newspaper said.

His body was taken to a medical examiner's office with his hands cuffed behind his back. A separate toxicology report showed no signs of alcohol or drugs, according to the newspaper.

A grand jury cleared Rankin of wrongdoing when he shot and killed a man in 2011 while responding to a burglary call, the newspaper said.

The deaths of black men in New York, Missouri, Baltimore and elsewhere related to law enforcement have fueled a national debate on police treatment of minorities.

Portsmouth, a major U.S. Navy ship repair center, is a city of about 95,000 people some 150 miles (240 km) south of Washington.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Lisa Lambert)