Family of teen killed by Stephen Rankin plans multimillion dollar lawsuit

William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman family)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – An attorney representing the family of William Chapman II tells 10 On Your Side that they are planning to sue the City of Portsmouth, former Police Chief Ed Hargas and former officer Stephen Rankin.

Rankin convicted of voluntary manslaughter; jury recommends 2.5 years

The total amount the family will ask for has not yet been decided, but attorney Jon Babineau tells WAVY.com it will be in the millions.

William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman’s family)
William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman’s family)

Babineau says the family will sue for negligent hiring, negligent retention and unreasonable use of force. He says when entered in federal court, the filings will show that former police chief Ed Hargas should have fired Stephen Rankin.

Babineau says the suit will include “what the police chief knew about officer Rankin, his conduct and his performance as a police officer dating all the way back to when he was first hired and attended the police academy.”

“Had they heeded the warnings and the advice of other supervisors and officers on the police department, William Chapman just may be alive today.”

FULL COVERAGE: Stephen Rankin Trial

Babineau would not go into specifics, saying that it will be made public once the lawsuit is filed, but said the information may be upsetting for the taxpaying residents in the city.

“I think they’ll be awestruck. I believe that everyone’s mouths will drop open and say, ‘What in the world was the police chief thinking when they decided to retain this officer on the police department?'”

Babineau says it will take a few weeks to file the suit, as he’s still waiting on transcripts from the criminal trial in Portsmouth.

Families, attorneys react to Rankin trial verdict

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