Preview – Unarmed Black Male

Unarmed Black Male

Filmmaker James Jones’ documentary, Unarmed Black Male, follows an investigation of the actions of a white police officer in Virginia, who shot dead an unarmed black teenager shortly after responding to a report of the youth shoplifting.

The officer, Stephen Rankin, who had been barred from patrolling the streets for three years after shooting another unarmed man, was a martial arts-trained former serviceman who had been previously disciplined for posting violent remarks and Nazi images online, and within minutes of arriving in the shop parking lot, he had shot and killed 18-year-old William Chapman.

After the killing, Rankin was fired from the police department and charged with first-degree murder.

More unsettling still is that Chapman was just one of 306 black men who were killed by police in the US last year – with only 14 police officers faced charges.

This has been a summer of extraordinary tension across the US, and this film encapsulates the wider socio-political conflict causing tension between black communities and the authorities set against the emotive and divisive prosecution of a police officer.
Part of the This World strand.

Unarmed Black Male, tonight at 9pm on BBC2