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American activist wants cooperation with Kazakh government on fatal police shooting cases 14 мая 2015, 10:16

American activist Michael Mohammed seeks contacts with the Kazakh government in order to "bring to justice" the police officer who killed a Kazakhstani citizen four years ago and a black man last month.
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Photo courtesy of Michael Mohammad Photo courtesy of Michael Mohammad

Community activist from the United States Michael Muhammad is trying to contact Kazakhstani authorities with an aim to bring to justice the police officer who fatally shot a young black man on Walmart parking lot. Why Kazakhstan? What's the connection? Four years ago the same police officer shot dead an unarmed man from Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstani national Kirill Denyakin was shot dead in 2011 by police officer Stephen Rankin. Denyakin was intoxicated and unarmed in his last minutes. His dead body contained 11 bullets fired by Rankin. Several weeks ago, almost exactly four years after the death of Denyakin, Rankin shot dead another - African American William Chapman.

Michael Muhammad spoke to Tengrinews correspondent about wanting police officer Steven Rankin to face justice for both murders. Together with local residents of Portsmouth, where the shooting occurred, he organized a campaign.

Mohammad organized Don’t Shoot rallies and meetings with local residents and officials. Now he has posted an image of himself wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Charge Stephen Rankin with murder."  He says he did not have direct involvement with starting the campaign but actively supports its aims.

For the past few days he has been active on social networks. He urges the law enforcement agencies to objectively investigate the murder of Chapman. He is confident that if the officer was not immediately allowed to resumed service after the death of Kirill Denyakin, the new tragedy would have been avoided.

Unarmed cook from Kazakhstan in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia, Kirill Denyakin was shot at 11 times on the night of April 23. He died on the spot. He was 26 years old.

Denyakin was banging on the door of his friend’s apartment. The police officers were dispatched over a report of burglary. The police officer found intoxicated Denyakin at the scene and ordered him to freeze. When Denyakin allegedly walked towards the man, the police officer shot him dead. 11 times.

According to Mohammad, this time the authorities had not released much information about the situation.

“It's not a lot of information because the city won't release any. I have worked on multiple police shootings and I have found the only way to get city governments here in America to address the issues is through a public campaign which is really expensive. I am working with little help to get the public to address this issue and to acknowledge Stephen Rankin should not have been returned to the force after he murdered your nation’s citizen in cold blood,” he said.

He also said that he would be “eager” to talk to the Kazakh government. “I need help and I want justice for both of the young men murdered by Rankin. Fact is if they punished him for the senseless and brutal murder of Kirill Denyakin this 18 year old child would not be dead. I would welcome talking to your government as soon as possible please. Thank you,” the activist said.

Soon Michael Mohammad plans to send letters to the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth police neither denies nor confirms the information that Chapman was shot by Steven Rankin. An investigation is underway, which could take several months. Denyakin’s mother Yelena Denyakina hopes that Stephen Rankin will not avoid prison this time.

By Dinara Urazova (Roza Yessenkulova contributed to the story)

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