Virginia Cop Shoots to Death an Unarmed Man…for the Second Time

Wednesday, June 03, 2015
(photo: Jewel Samad, AFP via Getty Images)

A Virginia police officer has shot to death a second unarmed man, four years after doing it the first time.


In 2011, Officer Stephen Rankin of Portsmouth, Virginia, killed Kirill Denyakin, shooting him 11 times, after responding to a 911 call about the 26-year-old behaving drunkenly and aggressively outside a building in which he’d been staying. Rankin claimed at the time that Denyakin charged him and reached into his waistband.


Rankin, a former U.S. Navy sailor, avoided indictment for the shooting, but was limited to desk duty for three years.


Then, one day before the fourth anniversary of Denyakin’s shooting, The Guardian reported, Rankin shot and killed William Chapman, an 18-year-old unarmed black teenager suspected of shoplifting from a Walmart. Neither Portsmouth police nor Walmart would say if Chapman actually took anything from the store.


Prior to the Denyankin shooting, police supervisors had been warned that Rankin had use-of-force issues and was “dangerous,” The Guardian reported. After that shooting, Rankin commented on a local newspaper website under a pseudonym defending the shooting. He later admitted to posting the comments.


Portsmouth Police Chief Edward Hargis refused to say why Rankin had been allowed to stay on the street after the problems had been reported. “That’s a personnel matter and I can’t comment.” He added: “I’m not going to comment on what people may say, allegation-wise,” he told The Guardian.


Rankin is now on administrative leave.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Stephen Rankin: The Military-Trained Officer Who Killed Two Unarmed Men (by Jon Swaine, The Guardian)

William Chapman: Unarmed 18-Year-Old Shot Dead by Officer Who Killed Before (by Jon Swaine, The Guardian)

Death of Kirill Denyakin (Wikipedia)


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