Ex-cop Stephen Rankin sentenced to 2.5 years in deadly shooting

13News Now Eric Kane has the story

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- A former Portsmouth police officer convicted of voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed teenager has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Stephen Rankin fatally shot 18-year-old William Chapman II last year, after responding to a shoplifting call. Witnesses said a struggle ensued, and attorneys argued over whether Rankin should have used deadly force.

RELATED: Stephen Rankin Trial Taser video released

A jury found former officer Stephen Rankin guilty in connection with the shooting and recommended a 2 ½-year prison sentence. Rankin's attorney James Broccoletti said Rankin followed the police department's use-of-force policy.

On Wednesday, the judge agreed with the jury's recommendation and sentenced Rankin to two years, six months in prison.

Supporters of Chapman's family erupted into cheers.

Defense attorneys argued the judge should allow Rankin to remain free pending the outcome of the appeals process, but the judge denied that ruling and deputies immediately escorted Rankin from the courtroom.

Before he was sentenced, Rankin read a statement that included an apology to Sally Chapman, the victim's mother.

"I wish William Chapman was alive today, and I am sorry that I took him from this world. Ms. Chapman, I hope that one day you'll find peace, and then one day you will be able to forgive me," Rankin said as he turned to look at Chapman.

Outside court, Chapman dismissed Rankin's remorse.

"You're going to look at me and say you're sorry? You're not sorry for me, you're sorry for yourself for what's about to happen to you," Chapman said.

Rankin's wife Dawn Rankin gave tearful testimony about the kind of man and father Rankin is to his teenage daughter.

To rebut her testimony, the prosecution called Cori Johnson, Rankin's ex-wife and biological mother to his daughter.

Johnson described Rankin as an absent father who has a troubling side.

"He is capable of behaving with complete depravity toward other human beings," Johnson said.

In court Rankin hugged Peggy Thorpe, one of the jurors who convicted him in August.

"I was glad to be able to speak with him and apologize to him in person to him and [I] asked him to forgive me for not making the right decision and standing by him," Thorpe told reporters.

Thorpe said she regretted the verdict after she learned more about Chapman's criminal history, which the judge did not allow into the trial.

"We should have been told that Chapman had a history," said Thorpe. "He by no means was a good citizen. He was a very misguided individual. So to try and make it out that he was a good person -- he wasn't. He wasn't somebody that I would have ever wanted to run across."

Rankin's defense team expects their appeal could take more than a year.

James Broccoletti, one of Rankin's attorneys, said Chapman was responsible for the deadly outcome.

"If he [Chapman] made any choice to obey the commands that officer Rankin legally gave him, we wouldn't be here today. I think that's the issue -- and I think that's the issue amongst others that's going to be addressed in the court of appeals."

Near where the defense team spoke with reporters, Chapman's supporters chanted and celebrated the judge's sentence outside the courthouse.

"I think that any demonstrations or conduct like that is unseemingly," Broccoletti said.


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