Justice has been served in the William Chapman II police shooting case.
Chapman, who was suspected of shoplifting, was shot and killed by former police officer Stephen Rankin outside of a Walmart after a security guard called cops to go after the 18-year-old African-American teen.
On Thursday, a jury convicted Rankin of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser charge than the original first-degree murder charge sought by prosecutors.
On Monday, NewsOne Now guest host Avis Jones-DeWeever spoke with Prosecutor Stephanie Morales about the Chapman case and the rare conviction of a police officer.
Morales explained the conviction of Rankin is a step in the right direction regarding holding the nation’s law enforcement officers accountable for their actions: “Anytime a public official is able to actually perform their duties, work hard and achieve a conviction in the type of issue such as this, it’s a step in the right direction for all of us.”
Jones-DeWeever asked Morales why she was successful in prosecuting this case while other prosecutors have been unable to get a conviction. Morales responded, “I followed the law.”
“As a prosecutor, that sounds cliché, but we really have a duty to uphold the law and make sure that we do our jobs regardless of whether it’s comfortable, difficult, or not.”
Prosecutor Morales later noted the relationship that she has with the police chief in Portsmouth, Virginia, who agreed the shooting incident would be investigated by the Virginia State Police.
Morales said she was able to work with the State Police during the investigation and “asked for follow-up information when needed and was able to get a full and thorough and complete investigation” before she made the decision to present the facts to a grand jury.
The result of Morales’ hard work and cooperation from local law enforcement was the conviction of Rankin.
Critics will say the conviction and the jury’s recommendation of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence is nothing more than a slap on the wrist, but in an era where police officers have literally been getting away with murder, this rare conviction should give those who campaign for police accountability hope.
Watch guest host Avis Jones-DeWeever, Prosecutor Stephanie Morales, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the William Chapman II police shooting case in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty