A Louisiana police officer has been convicted of killing a 6-year-old autistic boy after he and his partner pumped rounds of bullets into a car the child was riding in with his father.
Marksville Deputy Marshal Derrick Stafford was convicted Friday of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter charges in the death of Jeremy Mardis. His father, Christopher Few, was wounded after a 2-mile chase Nov. 3, 2015.
Four bullets hit the child, who died in minutes. Father and driver Christopher Few was wounded but survived.
“Never in a million years would I have fired my weapon if I knew a child was in that car,” Stafford told jurors, according to the New York Daily News. “I would have called off the pursuit myself.”
Stafford testified that he opened fire because he feared that Few, 26, would back up and run over his former colleague, Deputy Marshal Norris Greenhouse, who had stumbled to the ground.
But footage from Greenhouse’s body camera shows that Few had raised his hands in a universal sign of surrender before the two deputies collectively fired 18 shots at the vehicle.
Greenhouse, 25, who fired four shots at the car, is facing a separate trial later this year.
Few testified earlier this week that the deputies never gave any audible warnings before the shooting; he also says that he never tried to escape but only sped off to safely get his son to a girlfriend’s house in the event that he was arrested.
“The whole reason there was even a chase was for his well-being,” he said.
The News reports that this wasn’t Stafford’s first dustup with allegations of abuse. He was suspended from the Marksville Police Department after getting indicted on rape charges in 2011. He was reinstated after prosecutors dropped the charges, but later became the target of a lawsuit charging that he had used excessive force.
Read more at the New York Daily News.