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Virginia Police Officer Found Guilty of Killing Unarmed Black 18-Year-Old

policeStephen Rankin, a Portsmouth, Virginia officer was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the killing of William Chapman, an unarmed black 18-year-old man, who was accused of shoplifting.

Shoplifting is a problem, sure. Roughly one out of every 11 Americans is a shoplifter. It causes 38% of inventory shrink, and more than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting over the last five years. Those crimes, however, do not justify killing.

“The law does not say that because you do not comply you have to die,” said Stephanie Morales, commonwealth attorney, during her closing argument on Tuesday, August 2.

Chapman’s death was the second killing of an unarmed man at the hand’s of Rankin while he was on duty. Although he was facing up to 10 years in prison, the circuit court jury recommended just two and a half.

According to The Huffington Post, prior to the trial, Rankin was fired and charged with first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony. Those charges were later dropped and he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

The jury was never informed that this was the Rankin who had shot and killed a 26-year-old hotel cook four years ago. Krill Denyakin was shot 11 times by Rankin outside an apartment building. Rankin claims that Denyakin charged at him and he was forced to pull the trigger, 11 times.

The jury in the case of Denyakin declined to bring any charges.

Across the U.S., since 2005, only 74 police officers have been charged with manslaughter or murder from an on-duty shooting. Data points gathered by The Guardian, The Washington Post and by Mapping Police Violence have shown that there are approximately 1,000 deadly police shootings each year.

It is still unknown if Chapman ever did shoplift in the first place.

In a video clip recorded by Rankin’s Taser that was played to the court, right before Rankin did, in fact, tase Chapman, he could be heard asking, “You’re going to tase me when I didn’t do nothing?”