Louisiana Officer Convicted Of Manslaughter In 6-Year-Old Autistic Boy’s Death

[REUTERS/Louisiana State Police/Handout via Reuters]

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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A law enforcement officer in Marksville, La., was convicted of manslaughter Friday after a showdown with a fleeing father ended with the death of a 6-year-old autistic boy.

Jurors found Derrick Stafford, 33, guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, but not guilty of second-degree murder or attempted second-degree murder, according to The New York Post.

Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr., 25, reportedly fired a total of 18 shots at Christopher Few, a man who led four officers on a two-mile car chase in November of 2015.

Testimony during the case alleges Stafford fired 14 shots with his semi-automatic pistol. Stafford said he shot at the car multiple times because he was afraid Few was going to ram his car into one of the officers’ vehicle, which defense attorneys said he already did during the high-speed chase.

Footage from an officer’s body camera reportedly appears to show Few had his hands raised in the air while in the car once the vehicle was at a stop.

“I felt I had no choice but to save Norris. That is the only reason I fired my weapon,” Stafford said, according to The Advocate. “Never in a million years would I have fired my weapon if I knew a child was in that car. I would have called off the pursuit myself.”

Two other responding officers chose not to fire their weapons that night.

Stafford cried when a prosecutor showed him photographs of the deceased 6-year-old named Jeremy Mardis, telling jurors that the pictures stirred up thoughts of his own child.

“Do those photos show you what a .40 caliber Glock will do to a 6-year-old boy?” a prosecutor asked during cross examination, reports The Advocate.

One of Stafford’s attorneys said he wasn’t so sure investigators would have rushed to arrest the two officers if they were white, citing the fact that charges were filed in less than a week.

The defense said Few was “the author of that child’s fate” because he was the one who led the police on a treacherous, high-speed chase. Few was also accused of having drugs and alcohol in his system at the time of the incident in question.

Few, though, testified that he never heard any warnings, and was driving safely towards his girlfriend in another car ahead so that after a potential arrest, he could leave Mardis with her.

After waking up from unconsciousness six days later (the day of Mardis’ funeral) Few finally realized what had happened. He said during the trial that he regrets not stopping his vehicle for the police officers “every day,” according to The New York Post.

“As we have said all along, our goal in this case was to get justice for Jeremy Mardis, his family, and the people of Louisiana,” reads an official statement from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “Today, that happened.”

Greenhouse’s murder trial is slated for later this year.

Stafford’s sentencing will be determined next week.

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Eric Lieberman