Online posts add scrutiny of Portsmouth officer

Posted to: Crime News Portsmouth


The police officer who shot an unarmed cook last month in Olde Towne, prompting an investigation by state police and outrage in the man’s native Kazakhstan, is also under investigation for Facebook postings. One includes an image of a lynching. Another post displays a punk band’s song title: “Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?”

Police Chief Ed Hargis declined to comment on the Facebook content of Officer Stephen D. Rankin, but he acknowledged an internal investigation on whether the officer violated departmental policy.

Rankin also is on administrative leave during the state police investigation of the April 23 shooting death of Kirill Denyakin, 26, outside an apartment building on Green Street.

An image dated February 2010 that Rankin used as a Facebook profile picture shows a man hanging from a pole with the slogan “Love is … Doing whatever is necessary.”

Another profile image added July 2009 was a logo from the punk band the Misfits referencing the song about killing. A photo uploaded in November 2009 showed a picture of several handguns and cleaning apparatus.

In comments on the photo, Rankin wrote, “That’s rankins box of VENGEANCE!” and “would be better if i was dirtying them instead of cleaning them!”

Earlier this month, The Virginian-Pilot made screen shots of some of Rankin’s Facebook postings after a newspaper employee logged on to Facebook. As of Friday, his Facebook page could not be found. Rankin’s attorney, Ali Sprinkle, said there would be no comment.

Portsmouth police have a four-page policy, in place since April 2010, on the use of social networking sites by employees. It says officers should not post, transmit or disseminate content to the Internet or any public or private forum “that would tend to discredit or reflect unfavorably upon the Department or any of the Department’s employees.”

It also says posts by officers on such sites are under increased scrutiny by lawyers and “we strongly discourage you from posting information regarding off-duty activity that may tend to bring your reputation into question, even if taken out of context. Attorneys can use such information for impeachment purposes.”

The International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends that departments have such policies. Association President Mark Marshall, who is the police chief in Smithfield, was quoted in a New York Times article on the topic in April: “This is something that all the police chiefs around the country, if you’re not dealing with it, you better deal with it.”

The shooting has made headlines in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic.

According to a news story posted on the embassy’s website, about 20 Kazakh youths picketed the U.S. Consulate in the city of Almaty on Monday and presented a letter addressed to President Barack Obama asking to make “the policeman who killed Denyakin accountable for the murder.” The letter says he was hit 11 times.

Although an internal investigation was launched – which is standard for law-enforcement agencies in Hampton Roads – it was turned over to Virginia State Police after Hargis met with Commonwealth’s Attorney Earle C. Mobley. The decision was announced May 3.

Denyakin was a cook at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel; friends said he had been living here for about two years and that he regularly sent money home.

He was shot the night of Saturday, April 23, outside the building in the 400 block of Green St. where he had been living with a friend for several months.

The friend, Maurice Wilson, said Denyakin was so intoxicated he could barely walk. Wilson, who was working that night, said he left Denyakin lying on a step down the street from the building and told him to sober up. When Denyakin began banging loudly on a glass door to the foyer, Wilson’s wife apparently complained to a neighbor inside and the neighbor called 911 around 10:12 p.m.

The neighbor reported that a man was trying to break the glass and get in and told the dispatcher she did not know him. When Rankin – an officer in Portsmouth for 3½ years – arrived after being dispatched to an emergency burglary in progress, he confronted Denyakin in a courtyard of the complex and gave him commands, police said.

A police statement said Denyakin did not comply, “then made furtive movements with his hands, at the same time, lunging towards the Officer.”

Hargis later said in a news conference that a preliminary investigation showed Denyakin placed his hands at his waistband and charged toward the officer, who retreated and fired.

Patrick Wilson, (757) 222-3893,

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Portsmouth Police Dept.

Policemen are "Law Enforcement Officers". Considering the 911 call & the area, I'm not sure how people expected him to react. He didn't know about the conversation that took place between the 2 people before the call. Don't you think the caller should have told the dispatcher the man had been staying there? The man was so drunk he could barely walk. Suppose he had been mugged & killed before he made it home? Then there wouldn't be anyone to blame but the mugger & he would be long gone. It seems only the older generation understands policemen are there to uphold the law & protect our citizens. The lack of respect for officers is disgusting. When you are told to stop & you don't, they have the right to stop you.

Yeah. Because the cop didn't

Yeah. Because the cop didn't know about the conversation between the 2 people; should NOT matter, or how the call came across. When the dispatcher sent out the call as a "Burglary in Progress", DOES NOT MEAN that is what the ACTUAL senerio was upon arrival. When the cop arrived, within a couple min of the call, the man was still banging on the door, and it had not been broken. So, wouldn't anyone stop and think, hmmm, what IS actually going on here... Not shoot and ask questions later. And I do respect LEO's...when they act respectable and responsible in their duties.

Real information and I reallythinkthat

Banging on a door is not a crime. Regardless of how the 911 call came in. Alot sure happened in UNDER 120 seconds. Cop arrives, walks/runs from cruiser, shoots suspect, wasn't much time for anything else. How much time was there for confrontation beginning to end in under 120 seconds? It is a crime when a cop knows how to blame the shooting on a suspect. Furtive movements, or, thought he had a weapon. This shooting should go in to Book of World Records. "In under 120 seconds." In less than two minutes. Doesn't sound good any way I say it. Doesn't look right any way I see it.


While this is a tragidy, the "friend" left his extrememly drunk friend on a doorstep outside and went in to bed. "Friend's" wife complains to neighbor, neighbor calls police, police answer call. Since everyone is second guessing events they were not there for, I will to....What if the "friend" let his buddy sleep on the couch? Hmm, maybe no banging, no complaint, no call, no incident. Bottom line is you can speculate any way you want, but until you were there, saw with own eyes, and walked in the shoes, do not pass judgement. Less than 120 seconds to make several life altering choices, for both people. If the Officer was wrong, let him be judged, but if the FACTS support the events, then let YE be judged!

Most know where judgement lay, EXCESSIVE and criminal.

I would have left "anyone" outside to sober up some too, and have! Someone that drunk will wonder around in the house to puke or pee in a corner. People try not to think that if they leave someone alone and drunk in the courtyard, that when you get back, they'll have 11 bullets in them. And his friend went back to the Raddissan, where they both worked a 1.0 mile away, not to bed. Again, the caller had NO fear in her voice as if it were a burglary call. She was stating that "someone banging on the door, and gonna break the glass." She did say "no, I don't know him, he's a stranger." The Police station is 3/4 mile away from the apt bldg. There's some familiarity there, with being that close to the apt. bldg.

where Judgement Lay?

Okay I understand worrying about a friend being so drunk he wanders around and pukes or pees in your house (put in tub). What I don't understand is leaving a friend late at night, highly intoxicated, leaning in a doorway. Case comments don't tell you the person has no fear in their voice. That would mean the person taking the call is making an assumption on the caller's mindset. Point is, friend leaves highly intoxicated friend propped in doorway and Police get called reference possible burglary. Officer and victim are only 2 there who know what happened next. Evidence speaks louder than words. I DID say if he is wrong let him be judged. Opinion is okay but don't claim to spout facts when you were not there and neither was I.

Here's a fact. One of the

Here's a fact. One of the two are dead, that leaves one to make a statement of how he was charged at by suspect after suspect made furtive movements with his hands. Another one bites the dust...Another one bites the dust...And another one and another one, another one bites the dust.

not sure where were going

im not sure if your being open minded or not, but if you are willing, can you try a little experiment? start a stop watch, and then casually get up, walk to your mailbox and get your mail, then say hi to the neighbors on the way in, set down the mail, go to the fridge and grab a can or bottle of your favorite beverage, open it, take a drink, come back to the computer and stop the clock. im betting you can do all that in under 2 min. next, start a clock, turn around, shove one hand in your waistband, and charge about 20 feet at full speed, and stop the clock. subtract the one time from the other and you will get an example of how long the officer had to give commands, and how little time he had to react to an attack.

No, I think my mind is made up

Cop arrives with one of his pieces of vengence. Sees guy banging on apt door. May have even noticed how drunk the guy was. Scours their surroundings, sees no potential witnesses. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, and one more, bang, for good measure. Ahhh, no more burglar. How long did it take you to read this? Under 120 seconds?


so your thought is that the first chance the officer got alone with someone he planned of killing them? that is a WILD out of the blue accusation! what about before his shift, on the way to his shift, or any calls he would have run previous to this call? or do you have some piece of information none of us have that he was thinking while on the way to this call "i wonder if i can off this guy and get away with it". do you have ANY basis for this accusation or are you just being accusatory?

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