A Virginia jury found former Portsmouth Officer Stephen Rankin guilty on a charge of voluntary manslaughter after shooting an unarmed William Chapman last year. The jury had the option to charge him with murder, but elected for a lesser charge after deliberating for two days, according to CBS News.
Rankin arrived at a local Wal-Mart after authorities received a call of a shoplifter. Multiple witnesses say that Chapman had his hands in the air as the officer shot him twice in the face and chest. Rankin claimed that the victim was charging at him yelling “shoot me!” and feared for his life. No footage of the incident was captured.
Experts say that police officers in the United States shoot nearly 1,000 people a year, yet only 74 have been charged since 2004. And out of those charged, only around a dozen had been convicted as of this January.
Rankin’s conviction provides some hope that police officers will be held accountable for murdering civilians, especially considering that Chapman’s death wasn’t even caught on video as so many other have been as of late.
Photo Credit: Portsmouth Police Dept.