A former police officer was convicted Thursday on one count of voluntary manslaughter, and the jury recommended a sentence of 2½ years in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Prosecutors asked for Stephen Rankin, 36, to serve the maximum 10 years for killing 18-year-old William Chapman II. The defense asked for no jail time.
After hearing the verdict, the mother of the victim broke into tears – unhappy with the decision not to convict Rankin of first-degree murder. And after hearing the sentence, she said it was “not enough.”
Earl Lewis, a family spokesman, praised the verdict as a turning point in the national Black Lives Matter movement, though.
“We had to start somewhere,” said Lewis, a cousin of Chapman. “This was the beginning.”
He also tried to remain upbeat regarding the sentence. No, Rankin wasn’t led away in handcuffs. But, Lewis said, “he’s going to be in handcuffs sooner or later.”
Rankin shot and killed William Chapman II on April 22, 2015, in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart off Frederick Boulevard.
According to court testimony, Rankin was investigating a shoplifting report when he approached Chapman. An altercation ensued, and Chapman knocked Rankin’s Taser out of his hand.
Some witnesses said Chapman charged Rankin before the shooting. Another said he simply made a jab step toward the officer, as if he was trying to make him flinch.
Rankin responded with two shots, striking Chapman in the chest and the face.