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American cop who shot dead Kazakhstani man fatally shoots black man four years later

Police officer Steven Rankin. Photo courtesy of hamptonroad.com Police officer Steven Rankin. Photo courtesy of hamptonroad.com

A wave of reports into the killings of black men in America has overwhelmed the country. It raised questions about police accountability and use of excessive force, in particular against black people.

One of the recent fatal shootings of black men includes that of 18-year old William L. Chapman II in Portsmouth, Virginia. It is the second fatal police shooting in Portsmouth this year, Tengrinews reports citing Pilotonline.com.

The incident happened on April 22, 2015. Police officer Stephen Rankin was patrolling the area, when he tried arresting Chapmen on Walmart’s parking lot, apparently for shoplifting. According to an eyewitness from a nearby construction sight, the officer put the man against a car and tried putting handcuffs on him.

However, the two started tussling and it looked like the officer wanted to use his stun gun, but the man knocked it from the officer’s hand. Then, the officer stepped back and pulled his gun. The two talked and when the man charged at the officer, the latter fired. 

“As soon as the guy dropped, the officer put his gun away and dropped to the ground to give him CPR," an eyewitness named Leroy Woodman said.

Investigation is underway. The police is reluctant to issue more information. But what is known is that Stephen Rankin is the same police officer that killed an unarmed man from Kazakhstan in Olde Towne in 2011.

That tragedy happened on the night of April 23 four years ago.

26-year-old Kirill Denyakin, who came to the United States from Kazakhstan's Karaganda on Work and Travel program, stayed in the US for two years and worked as a cook in a hotel. That night, he was banging on the door of his female friend in the state of alcoholic intoxication.

The officer testified that the Kazakhstan citizen turned to him and started walking at him with his hand in his pants. Rankin fired 11 times at Denyakin, who, he said, refused to halt on his command. Denyakin was unarmed.

A grand jury cleared Rankin of all charges, which caused an outrage in Kazakhstan. The police officer allegedly mistook Denyakin for a robber, though there were reports that the two had been previously acquainted and allegedly had a quarrel over a girl.

At the time, Rankin was apparently under investigation by the police department over inappropriate Facebook posts. One of them was an image of a lynching, while another read a punk band's song title "Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?" It is not clear how the investigation ended.

The Denyakins family then tried to file a civil lawsuit, claiming $22 million in damages from the Portsmouth police. But were denied a compensation.

Now, the victim's mother Yelena Denyakina is hoping that the police officer will be punished this time. "Yes, I heard about that. (...) We are waiting for official information. But they say that it was him [Rankin], who shot. We hope that the officer will be punished at least now," she said.

By Dinara Urazova (Roza Yessenkulova contributed to the story)

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