Portsmouth offers to pay family of William Chapman $1 million, source says

William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman family)
William Chapman (Photo courtesy Chapman family)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Portsmouth has reached an agreement in principle with the family of William Chapman II, a source with the city told 10 On Your Side.

The source said the city could pay the Chapman family $1 million. Exact details of the settlement are still being worked out.

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

Chapman was unarmed when he was fatally shot by former Portsmouth police officer Stephen Rankin in April 2015 in the parking lot of the Walmart on Frederick Boulevard.

Reached over the phone Thursday, a Chapman family spokesperson told 10 On Your Side that the family is disappointed with the amount of $1 million and had sought $2.5 million.

Family members feel that a higher sum would be more in line with police shooting payouts seen across the country.

“It’s not about the money, it is about the principal,” said Earl Lewis, Jr. “No amount of money can bring back William Chapman.”

In August, Rankin was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in Chapman’s death. Jurors recommended he be sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

“The amount that I would say, according to my family, that we settled for, should have been much more than that, because we proved that this man did it,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that the amount agreed upon right now could go up, but not down. He said he wants to see Walmart held accountable, too.

“[Rankin] will be out with his family. William Chapman’s mother will never get the opportunity to ever see him again and sometimes you’ve got to look at life, a life was taken, a teenager, out of our community.”

Rankin’s sentencing is set for October. His lawyers plan to appeal the conviction.

Lewis said that the family will not have justice until Rankin is behind bars.

FULL COVERAGE: Stephen Rankin Trial

Jon Babineau, the attorney representing the Chapman family, told 10 On Your Side after Rankin’s conviction that the family was planning to sue the City of Portsmouth, former Police Chief Ed Hargas and former officer Stephen Rankin for negligent hiring, negligent retention and unreasonable use of force. The amount had not been decided at that time, but Babineau said it would be in the millions.

WAVY News reached out to Babineau Thursday. He declined to comment. 10 On Your Side also reached out to Earl Lewis, the Chapman family spokesperson, but we have not yet heard back.

Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright released a statement Thursday, which reads in full:

I’m not at liberty to discuss a possible settlement, but would love to resolve this as soon as possible. This family has gone through enough!”

10 On Your Side spoke with taxpayers, who want justice for the Chapman family.

“I definitely think that family deserves that money,” said Alan Moran.

Another man agreed, but questioned whether it’s fair for citizens to pay for a police officer’s actions.

“It’s just a sad story that somebody lost their lives… the cop was not doing what he was supposed to do, trained to do… and then the city gets the bill and the taxpayers have to pay.”

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