No indictment in Portsmouth shooting of Kazakh man

Posted to: News Portsmouth


A grand jury has opted not to indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Kazakh man outside an Olde Towne apartment.

The decision ends the criminal investigation of the April 23 shooting of Kirill Denyakin, 26, by Officer Stephen D. Rankin. A Virginia State Police agent presented evidence Thursday, and the grand jury considered a charge of voluntary manslaughter, Commonwealth's Attorney Earle C. Mobley said.

Mobley said he wanted a grand jury to consider the case because of the questions about the shooting and to allow the public to have a say after hearing all the evidence. "It's not just one person making a decision in a vacuum," he said.

Friends and co-workers of Denyakin's had rallied in support for him and questioned the use of deadly force.

The shooting also prompted anger in Denyakin's native Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic and a U.S. ally. The U.S. State Department called Mobley's office numerous times about the investigation, and an assistant secretary of state in May expressed condolences to the family and friends of Denyakin and the people of Kazakhstan. About 20 people protested at the U.S. consulate in the city of Almaty.

"It has been investigated by the state police. It has been reviewed by the Justice Department," Mobley said. "The state police did a very exhaustive investigation."

Ali Sprinkle, Rankin's attorney, said Rankin fully cooperated with the state police investigation.

"We're happy," she said. "An independent body of citizens reviewed the evidence that the state police presented and found that there was no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing."

Denyakin, an immigrant who cooked at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center, had a blood alcohol content of 0.28 when he was shot about 10:10 p.m. outside the building at 454 Green St. He had been living there with friends since around March. His friend had moved him outside and taken his keys because Denyakin had upset the friend's wife in the apartment.

After Denyakin began banging on the glass door to the foyer, a building resident called 911.

Rankin, 32 and a three-year member of the department, responded to an emergency dispatch for a burglary in progress. When he arrived, he pointed his gun at Denyakin, identified himself and commanded him to stop and get on the ground. Rankin has said that Denyakin instead reached into his pants and charged at him, prompting the officer to open fire to stop what he believed was a threat to his life.

Denyakin was struck 11 times and died at the scene.

His peers said Denyakin was honest and wouldn't harm anyone. Court records show he had been arrested on allegations of stalking an ex-girlfriend and public drunkenness. He was not convicted of the misdemeanors. Federal court records show Denyakin drank often and told friends he was depressed, missed his family and was worried about being deported.

A civil case against Rankin, alleging excessive force, is pending in U.S. District Court. He was reassigned to administrative duty after the Denyakin shooting. The department had no comment Thursday on Rankin's status.

Also Thursday, Mobley released new details about Denyakin because the criminal investigation is now resolved.

When Denyakin was arrested Feb. 21 on the misdemeanor stalking charge, he would not take his hands out of his pockets when police ordered him to do so, Mobley said.

"They actually had to draw down on him," he said. "They had to pull their service weapons in order to get him to comply."

An officer asked him what would happen in his native country if he did that, and Denyakin replied that he would be shot, Mobley said.

The officers said that when they asked Denyakin what he was going to do if he got inside his girlfriend's house, he said he was going to beat her, and then said he would beat the officers if he were not handcuffed, Mobley said.

Rankin came under scrutiny over postings on his Facebook page and has been the subject of an internal police investigation. In one posting, he said he bought ammunition at a gun show and "got a whole bucket of bullets to dump into the Comies," according to a deposition he gave in the civil lawsuit. There was no evidence that Rankin knew Denyakin.

Rankin also said he logged in to and left comments on stories about the shooting to defend himself after his girlfriend became upset by online comments.

Mobley said Denyakin had been in the United States since 2006 on a work visa, but he overstayed and a removal process was initiated in 2009. Denyakin failed to show at an immigration hearing in November 2010, and asked for a new one. He was scheduled for a hearing in Alexandria in July 2011 and had been meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mobley said.

He said state police did "an incredibly thorough job" investigating, and he reviewed all the evidence, meeting dozens of times with the investigator, Special Agent Keenon Hook, a former assistant commonwealth's attorney in Culpeper.

Mobley and police Chief Ed Hargis wanted the investigation to be done independently of Portsmouth police.

Since 2008, shootings by Portsmouth police have resulted in seven civilian fatalities, according to a database.

Patrick Wilson, 757-222-3893,


DOCUMENTS | Kirill Denyakin shooting

COMMENTS ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here; comments do not reflect the views of The Virginian-Pilot or its websites. Users must follow agreed-upon rules: Be civil, be clean, be on topic; don't attack private individuals, other users or classes of people. Read the full rules here.
- Comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the report violation link below it.

No one commented on the ads.

Love the advertisements at sides of the shooting articles.
1. American Army University. On-line Degrees in Criminal Justice.
2. Deposit Photos, We have pictures you need.
3 Towne Bank. At my bank, It's not just about accounts, It's accountability.

Very fitting ads. Those three are my favorites.

Does it look like VSP agreed with the shooting?

When you have this statement - " A Virginia State Police agent presented evidence Thursday, and the grand jury considered a charge of voluntary manslaughter,"

Looks like this case is going to a higher court. It doesn't look like it's over yet.

Who could ever think this is Justified

Rankin observes Denyakin banging door with palms. Denyakin hadn't seen him yet. Rankin commands him, stop Police, Rankins other commands "Let me see your hands" "Get down on the ground." "clear the air" Denyakin makes it half way to Rankin about 15 -20'. Hand still deep in pants. Rankin can see his "steeley eyes"
Rankins calm, discharges weapon at Denyakin as he continues at full run toward Rankin.

Denyakin seems unaffected, then, Denyakin stops abruptly falling straight down; while Denyakin is going down, Rankin fires 1 or 2 more shots. After Denyakin is down on ground Rankin thinks Denyakin is playing "possum", Rankin continues to cover Denyakin...

Continued to cover means "CONTINUED TO SHOOT" (cover body with more shots, guess where)

Mr. Crab......

I understand your point but, say......Someone is coming at you with their hands in their pockets, lunging or not, just coming at you, you don't know if they have a popsicle, keys, screwdriver, gun, or KNIFE, (I would "hate" to be Cut or Sliced). You just don't know what. They just keep coming. Everything HAPPENS SO FAST. You can try to draw your taser which takes much longer to draw than a pistol, then boom, he's on you before you can fire your ONE shot and hope the two barbs connect, they don't always)and then you take a knife or screwdriver to the eye, stomach, or throat, you only have one hand to fend off because the other is holding the taser. That's why a pistol was used.
At 21 feet someone can get to and stab you before you have time to draw. By the way, just look at how many people hate cops on this forum. It's much worse on the street. It's DANGEROUS being a cop. And you are ALWAYS second guessed by the MEDIA and public. Like combat, you have to do it to really understand.

Some killers walk the streets, this is one of them

Whatever may be the case, there is but one person that is responsible and they walk free. Had I been on the jury, I don't know that it would have been so easy to convince me, but then again, the way a jury is instructed to accept or decline not always foolproof for determining guilt or innocence. Based on what I have seen of this, there is some clear cut coverup or explanations as to the hand in the pocket and 11 rounds hitting home with someone way over the legal limit, trying to get back into their residence and not native speaking English. Yes his abilities to comprehend were under a severe handicap. This is most unfortunate that this has happened. If I were his relatives in Russia, I'd be wanting some justice of any kind, just based on what I said. I can't comprehend how they will accept the verdict any more than a native speaking person such as myself can't accept this. There is just too many red flags still flying for me to buy into what appears to be some pretty thin arguments for justifying killing someone. I sure hope someone pursues this in a civil matter and gives the family of the deceased a little more comfort than the Barney Fife reaction that appears to have been the case.....based on what I read of it.

As someone that encountered my share of

drunks and druggies under the influence in a controlled enviroment I can testify first hand the damage and injuries they can inflict on other civilians and LEO's. To have to deal with these same individuals as the first responding officer to a 911 call placed by a citizen with a complaint or in fear for their own safety and then to have to, for years afterwards, be second guessed by people with blatantly anti-law enforcement attitudes, (like some posters here) makes you wonder why any reasonable, inteligent individual would even want to be a LEO. The only advice I can give to those of you that want to try to reason with these Monday morning quarterbacks is "Don't waste your time or breath". People like them with their attitudes are the major factor that turns a simple detention or arrest into someone dies. I thank God that this time it was not the LEO. If this victims "friends/family" were truly concerned for his safety someone should had intervened as soon a the police arrived on the scene. From what I have read on this case I believe this all went down where the original 911 came from. Where were the complaintants? It's simple, whether it's in the jail or on the street, just do what you are asked to do and there is a 99.9% chance that no one gets hurt, none the less dies. Realize that there are consequences to your actions or reactions. FYI your hands, whether up over your head or showing palms facing the plain sight will help save your own life.

repercussions for your actions???

Don't ya think that is a bit over the top for what "repercussions" should have been? What about mace, taser, 1 shot maybe, keep this guy off the battle field! This was sheer panic........15 rounds, 11 hit home.......that is not repercussions, that is negligent homicide and that is being excessively fair from what I have read of this.

Repercussions usually don't include getting gunned down in front of your residence when you may not understand what someone ordered you to do or being under the influence and not possibly comprehending what was being ordered of you to do. Drunks do stupid things, but if this is all that is necessary to kill someone because they don't listen to an order by the police in perhaps a different language or whatever/under the influence.......I am just really amazed how this could fly in court for an excuse, that jury had to have been motivated to either ignore certain facts or something per their rules they have...something is way hinky here...


It was first reported that he "moved" towards the Officer, then "lunged", and in the Officers report as dictated to another Officer, "He began charging me with a focused steely eyed look in his eyes". He could distinguish this in a dark alley? Who helped him with the report, Mickey Spillane? I am not making light of this incident. From all outward appearances the blue line closed ranks to protect one of thier own, be it right or wrong.

It sounds like Cosmo Renardo............

.....Just does not like cops in general, the legal system, the feds, the Courts, Judges, the State Police, FBI, or BATF. I, myself, do not trust every one of these institutions. However; a detailed investigation by responsible people came to the conclusion that use of force was justified in this case. I believe that Mr. Cosmo Renardo cares not a wit about the deceased. His only concern is voicing that he really hates cops.

If you think about it, the

If you think about it, the person to blame here is Denyakin's friends wife.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Please note: Threaded comments work best if you view the oldest comments first.

More articles from: News rss feed   


special features