Jury convicts deputy marshal for shooting death of boy, dad's injuries
MARKSVILLE – Jurors found Derrick Stafford guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the shooting death of a six-year-old and the injuring of the child's father in November 2015.
The jury deliberated for a little more than three hours Friday evening. Sentencing is scheduled for next Friday.
Stafford, a local city marshal at the time, was convicted of the fatal shooting of Jeremy Mardis and the shooting injuring of his father, Chris Few, in a case that garnered national attention.
Mardis died when marshals opened fire on the vehicle his dad, Few, was driving. Both Few and Mardis were shot.
Earlier Friday, Stafford took the stand and said he was torn apart about the child's death.
The final day of trial
“It makes me feel horrible,” KALB TV reported Stafford said on the stand.
"I have children the same age,” he continued, but said the decision to fire shots at the car was made to protect the life of other marshals who had been pursuing Few.
“I was defending fellow officers,” he said.
Stafford said it appeared Few was using the vehicle as a weapon, possibly to escape.
"He backed it right into (Norris) Greenhouse's vehicle. (Few) put it back in drive. We were giving loud verbal commands – stop your vehicle, put your hands up. Few looked back at us. He put his vehicle in reverse. I had no choice but to save Norris. It's the only reason I fired my weapon."
Greenhouse also faces charges related to the shooting.
Stafford said he never knew Mardis was in the vehicle.
"I believed Few was using his vehicle as a dangerous weapon to hurt one of us." Stafford explained "As I shot, I backpedalled for safety. I never saw his hands go up."
Prosecutors asked Stafford pointed questions – questioning the use of force.
Holding a photo of Mardis' dead body, a prosecutor asked Stafford: "Does that show you what a 40 caliber does?"
KALB reported, Stafford cried heavily on the stand.
Stafford also said he was in shock following the shooting, trying to explain why he did not immediately try to help the child.
Ending their case, a prosecutor announced: "What we have is a case of a ticking time bomb."
The body camera footage
Previously kept under seal, an officer's body camera footage of the shooting was released in September. The video is about 13 minutes. WBRZ edited graphic video and published segments when it was released.
The video is from an officer who responded as gunfire erupted at the scene of the shooting. It appears Few has at least one hand on the window of the car - seemingly with it up, almost surrendering, as gunfire erupts. As the shooting subsides, the officer walks around the scene and finds Few injured and Mardis with a slight pulse but unresponsive in the front, passenger's seat. Mardis is bloodied and limp.
For about two minutes, officers discuss rendering aid to the child and eventually put gloves on to try to keep him alive, but don't get to actually assist the child since an ambulance arrives.
Throughout the video, the body camera picks up officers in the background cursing. At one point, while talking with one of the officers involved in the shooting, one of the marshals is heard saying, "I never saw a kid."
Following the shooting in November 2015, State Police Col. Mike Edmonson watched the body camera footage and called it "disturbing."
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