Police officers involved in shootings are seldom charged and rarely convicted, an issue that helped spark the Black Lives Matter Movement. That’s what makes a case in Portsmouth, Va., so unusual.
A majority Black jury convicted a White former police officer of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed Black teenager, CBS News reports.
Last year, a security guard at a major retail chain accused 18-year-old William Chapman of shoplifting. The former officer, Stephen Rankin, who was fired while awaiting trial and was working as a security guard at Walmart, confronted Chapman.
Rankin, 36, claimed he used his stun gun to subdue the suspect. When that didn’t work, Rankin drew his gun and ordered Chapman to get on the ground. He said Chapman charged at him instead. Fearing for his life, the former officer fired twice, killing the young man, the report says.
Some witnesses corroborated Rankin’s version, but others told a different story. The prosecutor told the jury that Rankin “brought a gun into what is at worst a fist fight,” CBS reported. She added that non-lethal force would have been more appropriate.
A jury of eight African Americans and four Whites reached a verdict on the second day of deliberations. Jurors convicted him of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder, as the prosecutor wanted.
On average, CBS News notes, that police kill roughly 1,000 suspects every year. However, only 74 have been charged with a crime in the last decade. Prosecutors have won convictions in about one-third of those cases.
SOURCE: CBS News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter