William Chapman murder case

Mon 29 Mar, 2021 02:35 am
So I'm reading about the prosecution of a Virginia police officer, Stephen Rankin, on the alleged murder of a black 18yr old male, William Chapman.

I'm not sure how, if ever, an 18year old gets shot for shoplifting - as far as I know, nothing like this has ever happened in Australia. But if I were the prosecutor, I would get get the defendant to run one roleplay rehersal of what happened, and get a random person to do another...both of alleged events:

He testified that after he told Chapman: “I suppose you know why I’m here.” Chapman walked away briskly and allegedly put his left hand in his pocket. “I think he’s reaching for something and I need to detain him,” claimed Rankin.
This line causes me know end of issues.

Roleplay 1: If I were a prosecutor, I would have Rankin roleplay out this incident (if such things are allowed). Why?

It generally takes in the vicinity of 2-4 seconds to 'reach for something' and get it, and bring it out. Of course it is different if the object gets stuck.
- Reaction time is generally 0.75s. So he would usually have 1.25-3.25s
- For something in your jacket (the shortest timeframe needed), he has absolutely minimal reaction time
- But while reaction time is generally 0.75s, because the starting movement of letting your arms fall by your side is almost the same as the starting movement of reaching into your trouser pockets (the longest time frame needed in the 1-4 seconds) the reaction time is much longer - likely only just before they reach into their trouser pocket - maybe at the 1s mark (giving 3 seconds to something out)

So, my issue?

I 'think' he's reaching for something

- by the time he started talking on his phone or radio (presuming it is radio and recorded), he would already have known if he was reaching for something
- it takes 2.1+s to say "I think he's reaching for something and I need to detain him". So we have reaction time 0.75-1.25s+ reach for radio .5s (tot 1.25-1.75s) + 2.1+s (tot 3.35-3.75s)
- to be clear, in the above, it takes around .8-1.5s to reach for something (1.5 if you're really slow). Reaction time 0.75-1.25+reach for radio time puts a transmission time at 1.25-1.75 seconds.

Ie. In almost all cases he would know prior to the radio transmission if the kid was reaching for something, and in virtually all cases he would know prior to finishing his radio transmission if the kid was reaching for something.

Anyone could run this scenario out for themselves to see if they could what Rankin claims he did (though don't forget if you're expecting it, your reaction time is slightly faster - but I still don't think anyone could do this, even knowing it was coming)

The above to me screams that this was premeditated.


Then there's the idiocy of
"Take your hands out of your pocket or I'm going to tase you".
This isn't the second roleplay - it's related to the above and leads into the second roleplay. The quote appears this was said for the benefit of the taser recording device:
- for an unfathomable reason (read dodgy story), this kid reaches into his pocket 'for something'....then allegedly leaves his hand in there (I mean seriously)
- then allegedly refuses to take his hand out (I mean seriously, with black americans knowing they get shot)
...but this isn't the end of the timing issue - the kid was walking away. It would have taken a few seconds to catch up. And while briskly walking, he left his hands in his pockets...

ROLEPLAY 2: Walk briskly with one hand in your pocket.

After doing so, ask yourself if you have ever seen anyone do that (other than very specifically - on freezing days while on a phone call, and running for shelter/transport). There's a reason no one voluntarily does it - you're unbalanced, it can throw you off balance, and feels ungainly.


Then there's the taser footage he says the above in, where:
- he's got one hand on the taser (obviously having activated it)
- but it's moving all over the place, including at one time pointing up towards Rankins face (indicating almost certainly a struggle)
- except the kid is turned side on the Rankin on both occassions it captures him; and
- Rankins face is utterly calm (try struggling with anyone and have a photo taken of you)
- and if Rankin wasn't struggling, then why was the taser moving all over the place?

commonwealth’s attorney Stephanie Morales played to jurors a video clip recorded by Rankin’s Taser in which she said Chapman could be heard asking: “You’re going to tase me when I didn’t do nothing to you?”
This too fits in more with having done nothing to deserve the threat of tasering than it does with someone with their hand in their pocket.

Rankin looks to me to be rather special...but that isn't reason to doubt his word. My reason for doubting his version is based in timings...which are then supported by an almost irrational story, with highly unusual (read improbable) behavioural claims, and recordings that support that the kid wasn't doing anything that deserved being tasered (which lead to the shooting, which itself is in dispute).

As addons only:
- the officer had trained in Mixed martial arts in the Navy
- there are allegations he fanatasised about shooting people
- he had shot someone previously

In case it isn't clear - I am a big supporter of police, who generally do a really good job under very difficult circumstances. What constantly surprises me about these sort of stories is the minimal nature of allegation that it takes to get yourself shot (at least if you are black). This one was, paraphrased "he was unarmed, but I feared for my life"

The last police officer (here in Australia) I remember shooting someone for assaulting him was maybe 15 years ago - he had his baton taken off him, and had been hit around the head multiple times before shooting the offender. His face was black and blue with blood everywhere. Of course there have been any number of shootings where police have been attacked with knives, swords, and guns...but that is the only shooting I remember from an assault.

The standard here is that they fear for their lives or someone elses. I don't think anyone here would by such from assault that hadn't even occurred yet (or at all).
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Sat 10 Apr, 2021 02:51 pm
Video - haven't quite worked out how to embed them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKQX9-CSQK8


US army officer sues police who pointed guns and pepper-sprayed him during traffic stop

A second lieutenant in the US army is suing two Virginia police officers over a traffic stop last December in which the officers drew their guns, pointed them at him and used a slang term to suggest he was facing execution before pepper-spraying him and knocking him to the ground.

Body camera footage shows Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, dressed in uniform and with his hands held in the air outside the driver’s window as he tells the armed officers he is “honestly afraid to get out” of his SUV.

“Yeah, you should be!” one officer responds during the stop at a gas station.

The below quote actually has me concerned about just how afraid minorities are of police in the US:

Another officer, Joe Gutierrez, was driving by when he heard Crocker’s call, saw him attempting to stop the SUV and decided to join the stop. Gutierrez acknowledged that Nazario’s decision to drive to a lighted area happens to him “a lot, and 80% of the time, it’s a minority”, Arthur said, quoting the officer.

And the army officer (who is black) deciding to drive to a petrol station and also activate his phones recorder, speaks of someone who is terrified of stopping somewhere in the dark with police. That this apparently happens frequently with minorities, speaks of their level of fear of the police.

Presuming that, having driven so far, the police have had time to run his rego and see who they driver is, and knowing minorities driving to well lit areas being a frequent occurrence....and the driver stopping in a very public, well lit area...

Why the aggression for a possible traffic violation?

The driver having driven to a well lit public area, most likely with CCTV, is evidence against high risk. The drivert, being calm if not fully cooperative is evidence against high risk. The driver leaving his arms out in full view, trying to speak calmly to them, is evidence against high risk. How they can argue it is high risk is quite beyond me.

The driver keeping his hands out of the windows no matter what they ask, speaks of someone who is terrified of them saying 'he's reaching for something' and shooting him.

The officers barely bothered communicating with him - and I don't mean yelling instructions (this was a simple traffic stop for no number plate - which he had a temporary one in his window):
- they could have said 'very slowly, reach for your belt buckle and undo it'...which would have allayed fears on both sides, but they don't.
- and there wasn't a single simple 'why don't you have a rear number plate?', which was their entire reason for pulling the car over, and would have sorted the wholee matter out then and there (officers, there's a temporary plate in the window)

As for the police officers own fears about it supposedly being a high risk situation - they are on foot while the driver is stationary - one of them could have slowly walked to a position (some distance from the car) that allowed them to better see the driver and inside the vehicle...which would have allayed their fear a bit...but both stood yelling from the same spot.

Eventually they decide it is safe enough to come to the door of the vehicle...which they could have done a lot earlier - the drivers arms were out the window the entire time, and nothing of his behaviour changed between their first interacton and them approaching (ie the risk was the same the entire time).

If not racially driven, then:
- their risk assessment is piss poor
- their operational tactics are piss poor
- their communications are piss poor
- their fear levels are correspondingly over the top; and
- their aggression is correspondingly over the top


The strange thing about this is, if it is not racially driven, then the likely reason police are so aggressive is the fear for their own safety (though I don't see it in this particular case). The reason that is strange is this:
- if one person wearing a uniform and treat someone with disrespect, that person will dislike you
- if multiple people wearing a uniform treat a group with disrespect, the group will come to dislike the uniform
- if the disrespect keeps going, the percentage of the group that dislikes police grows, and a percentage of those that dislike the police start hating the police (making police less safe, increasing officers fears, which increases officer aggression levels)
- if the dispresect keeps continuing, the percentage of those that hate grows, and then a percentage of them become prepared to be violent (making police even less safe, increasing officers fears, and once again escalating the aggression levels)

This of course is generalised, but it surprises me that police departments don't realise this.
Region Philbis
Sat 10 Apr, 2021 02:59 pm
Video - haven't quite worked out how to embed them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKQX9-CSQK8

Sat 10 Apr, 2021 07:10 pm
@Region Philbis,
Thanks for the code
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Sat 10 Apr, 2021 07:18 pm
I doubt you could get a defendant to do a role play, unless he were willing. It would probably be construed as self incriminating.
Sat 10 Apr, 2021 07:43 pm
Yep. My next option, if they allowed role-plays, would be to get a member of the jury to roleplay and see if they could do it the way it was supposed to happen (and failing that, random members of the gallery). My point being that I very much doubt anyone can say & do what was claimed to have been said and done in the timeframes available / that what was claimed to have been said & done don't make sense in the time frames available. Roleplay is the best way to display this (because it's a timing issue)
Sun 11 Apr, 2021 03:58 am
I can’t see role play having any place in the court room itself, it’s based too much on supposition.

Having said that I don’t see why it couldn’t feature in a jury’s deliberations, but as those are kept confidential it would never come to light.
Sun 11 Apr, 2021 07:07 pm
I think you mistook what I meant - I meant roleplay exactly what the defendant has said occurred. The timings don't work.

Within that, everyone can get something wrong (ie. they didn't see something occurring, or so much occurred at once that they forgot it). However, the point is that he must have a reason for his actions, which he provided, and it is an easy way to see how it would play out...the jury is there are after all, to see if his reasons for shooting the kid were justified (though obviously the investigators think his actions aren't clearly justified, or he wouldn't face charges)
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