2 Louisiana officers held in autistic boy’s shooting death
“Disturbing” body-camera footage led Louisiana officials to arrest two part-time deputy city marshals on suspicion of murder for shooting and killing a 6-year-old boy during a police stop, the leader of Louisiana’s state police said.
Jeremy Mardis was still belted into his seat in his father’s SUV when Marksville deputy marshals opened fire and killed him after the end of a police chase Tuesday night, according to state police Col. Michael D. Edmonson.
The deputy marshals also critically wounded the boy’s father, Chris Few, who was driving and who was unarmed. Few was in critical condition as of Friday night, and a hospital receptionist on Saturday declined to release more current information on his status.
Body-camera footage from one of the deputy marshals at the scene “is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen, and I’ll leave it at that,” said Edmonson, who released no details on what prompted the deputy marshals to stop Few’s truck and spurred them to start shooting.
“Six years old. He didn’t deserve to die like that,” Edmonson said in the televised news conference Friday night.
The two arrested men had other full-time law-enforcement jobs and were moonlighting as Marksville Ward 2 deputy marshals, a position in Louisiana similar to being sheriff’s deputies.
Derrick W. Stafford, 32, was a full-time lieutenant in the Marksville Police Department, and Norris J. Greenhouse Jr., 23, was a full-time marshal for the city of Alexandria. Each faces a count of second-degree murder and a count of attempted second-degree murder.
Both officers were certified with Louisiana’s state police officer standards and training council, according to a statement from the city of Marksville and Ward 2 Marshal Floyd Voinche Sr.
Tuesday’s shooting happened inside Marksville city limits, according to Louisiana State Police.
Few’s fiancee, Megan Dixon, told the Guardian that she’d had an argument with Few at an area pool hall and that the couple left separately.
Few picked up his son from a relative’s house and pulled up next to his fiancee at a stoplight to persuade her to come with him, according to Dixon, who said she refused.
When the light turned green and the pair pulled away, two marked marshal’s cars came up behind Few’s vehicle with their lights flashing, Dixon told the Guardian.
Few feared the marshals because he and one of the men had had a personal conflict in the past, she told the Guardian.
Avoyelles Parish Dist. Atty. Charles A. Riddle III offered his “sympathy and prayers” Friday night to Jeremy Mardis’ family and said that his office would recuse itself as soon as possible due to a relationship between one of the deputy marshals and an assistant district attorney in Riddle’s office.
Prosecution is expected to be handed over to the Louisiana attorney general’s office, Riddle said.
The marshals office in Marksville had come under criticism recently, with city officials accusing Voinche, the Ward 2 marshal, of overstepping his authority in expanding his policing powers.
In a Sept. 1 letter to Louisiana’s attorney general’s litigation division, Marksville Mayor John Lemoine accused Voinche of issuing traffic tickets inside Marksville city limits, without the permission of the City Council, while driving an unmarked car.
“We are asking if the Ward 2 marshal has the authority to issue tickets within city limits without the approval of the Marksville City Council?” Lemoine wrote, requesting an opinion from the attorney general’s office. “Furthermore ... can someone in an unmarked vehicle issue tickets?” (No response had been posted on the opinions portion of the attorney general’s website as of Saturday.)
A recent directory for Louisiana city marshals, updated within the last two years, said that Voinche’s marshal office has only two employees, one full-time and one part-time. Voinche was first elected to his position in 2003.
About three months ago, Voinche hired deputies, acquired patrol cars and started issuing tickets within city limits without seeking permission from city officials or responding to their questions, Lemoine told the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Voinche did not respond to messages seeking comment Saturday.
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