Attorneys representing the estate of an unarmed Kazakh national shot by a police officer filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Friday.
The lawsuit names Officer Stephen D. Rankin and says he is being sued as an individual and in his capacity as a Portsmouth officer. The suit seeks $22 million.
Rankin was responding to a burglary call in the city's Olde Towne area April 23 when he confronted Kirill Denyakin, 26, outside the Green Street apartment building where Denyakin was living with a friend.
Denyakin did not comply with commands, and Rankin opened fire after Denyakin charged or lunged toward him, the Police Department has said. The lawsuit alleges that Rankin fired 15 times - striking Denyakin 11 times - and should have known that Denyakin did not pose a threat of serious physical harm to anyone. The lawsuit says Denyakin did not make threatening movements.
A neighbor called 911 after Denyakin began loudly banging on the door of the building at 454 Green St. A toxicology test later showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.28, more than three times the legal limit for driving.
He is survived by his mother, Yelena Denyakina; his father, Ivan Denyakin; and his brother, Roman Denyakin, the lawsuit says.
Rankin is on administrative duty while Virginia State Police investigate the shooting. Also under review are postings from his Facebook page under the handle "Steve Danger Rankin" that were discovered after the shooting, including a profile image of a man hanging from a noose and comments in which Rankin referred to his gun box as a "box of vengeance" and said he would rather be emptying weapons than cleaning them.
Rankin has been a Portsmouth police officer for 3-1/2 years.
Denyakin, nicknamed "KGB" by friends, was a cook at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and had worked there for several years. After his death, friends, including the executive chef at the hotel, expressed shock that he could have been involved in such an incident.
"Mr. Denyakin had no criminal background," said Carlton F. Bennett, one of the lawyers who filed the suit. "He was here legally."
Ali Sprinkle, an attorney representing Rankin while the shooting is investigated, had no comment on the civil lawsuit.
Jason Knorowski, president of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association and its local Southeast Chapter, said such lawsuits are "typical in any kind of officer-involved shooting regardless of what the circumstances are."
He said all the facts aren't yet known.
"It's not fair to the officer to Monday morning quarterback," he said.
Portsmouth City Attorney G. Timothy Oksman was not available for comment.
Patrick Wilson, (757) 222-3893, email@example.com
Document: The lawsuit