A 6-year-old Louisiana boy was fatally shot by police officers who fired into his father’s car Tuesday night. On Friday, two of four police officers involved in the shooting were charged with second-degree murder in his death.
First grader Jeremy David Mardis was shot multiple times, Avoyelles Today reports. His father, 25-year-old Chris Few, was also wounded.
The Louisiana State Police, which is investigating the shooting, said city marshals from Avoyelles Parish Ward 2 fired their weapons at the vehicle at the end of a pursuit in Marksville.
State police arrested Marksville Police Lt. Derrick Stafford and reserve officer Norris Greenhouse Jr. Friday night. They were also charged with attempted second-degree murder. Two other officers, Lt. Jason Brouillette and Sgt. Kenneth Parnell, were also involved in the shooting, but have not yet been charged. All four are on administrative leave.
Mardis, who is autistic, “was a special gift from God,” his grandmother, said in a statement to WAFB-TV.
“He was always smiling always happy. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 2. He loved everyone he met and they loved him,” his grandmother, Samantha Few, said. “As far as what caused his death, the only thing I have been told is he died from gun shot wounds. He didn’t deserve what happened. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. Police said Jeremy was buckled into the front seat of his father’s vehicle, which is where he died.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Arrests Came After Police Watched ‘Disturbing’ Body Cam Footage
State Police Colonel Michael Edmonson said the arrests of the two officers came after investigators reviewed body camera footage from the scene.
Edmonson said the body camera video was “the most disturbing thing I’ve seen.”
On Monday, Few’s attorney told the Associated Press the body camera footage shows Few had his hands up before the officers opened fire, shooting him and killing his son.
Avoyelles Parish coroner Dr. L. J. Mayeux told the Associated Press the city marshals from Ward 2 were chasing Few’s vehicle after he fled when they tried to serve a warrant.
Officials have not yet said what the warrant the marshals were serving Few with was for. The shooting happened at about 9:30 p.m. at the end of the chase. It’s also not yet known when the incident started.
According to the Acadiana Advocate, Few has several traffic violations and a recent DWI conviction, but there were no outstanding warrants or ongoing criminal cases in Marksville city court or the area district court. Police and the district attorney said they were not aware of any outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The shooting happened on Martin Luther King Drive in Marksville, a city of 5,700 in Avoyelles Parish.
Avoyelles Today initially reported the marshals cornered the suspect in his vehicle. Few then put his vehicle in reverse and struck the police vehicle, the news site reported. The officers exited their vehicle and fired their duty pistols through the driver’s side window.
But on Thursday, Edmonson, the head of the state police department, denied that Few had put the vehicle in reverse, saying “no, I didn’t say that. That didn’t come from me,” according to The Guardian.
Few did not have a gun in his vehicle, police said.
His fiancee, Megan Dixon, told The Guardian she saw the two marshals’ black and white cars approaching Few’s vehicle from behind as he pulled away from a bar where they had been talking. She said she saw Few point toward his son, indicating he was in the car and didn’t know what to do. Few was afraid of the marshals because he had a prior personal conflict with one of them, she told The Guardian.
2. The Boy’s Father Was Shot Twice & Was in Critical Condition
Chris Few, the boy’s father, was also shot by police. He was airlifted to the hospital and is in critical condition, state police say.
According to Avoyelles Today, Few was shot in the torso and leg.
His updated condition was not immediately known Thursday, but he remained hospitalized. It’s also not clear if he is facing criminal charges.
According to the Alexandria Town Talk, Few is on a respirator and does not know his son died.
3. There Are ‘a Lot of Unanswered Questions’ About What Led to the Shooting
The Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations’ Alexandria Field Office responded to the scene of the shooting at the request of the Marksville Police Department and will investigate the shooting, according to a press release.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Louisiana State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson told reporters. “Let me tell you: We need to know it first.”
You can watch Thursday’s police press conference below:
Police said three of the police officers involved were Marksville officers moonlighting as marshals. The fourth marshal is from Alexandria.
They have also not been interviewed yet.
Lt. Derrick Stafford and reserve officer Norris Greenhouse Jr., the two officers charged in the shooting, are both named in a federal use of force lawsuit pending against the city. You can read more about that and see the lawsuit here.
The marshals work for the city courts and serve warrants, according to the Associated Press. They carry firearms and have police powers. Their boss is Ward 2 Marshal Floyd Voinche Sr., a local bus driver who was recently re-elected.
He told the Acadiana Advocate two of the marshals were serving warrants Thursday and the third was working on traffic patrol. Marksville is in Ward 2, which also has its own police department and is patrolled by the state police.
John Lemoine, the city’s mayor, said Voinche hired deputies and bought patrol cars about three months ago, and they started issuing citations, including traffic tickets, in Marksville, which Lemoine told the Advocate is beyond the marshal’s normal role. He said city officials haven’t been able to get an explanation from Voinche.
“You can’t get in touch with him; he’s never come before us,” Lemoine told the newspaper. “There’s no communication.”
Lemoine wrote a letter to the state’s attorney general in September asking for a legal opinion on whether the marshals have the authority to write citations in the city. The attorney general has not yet responded.
4. The Coroner Says the Boy Was ‘Caught in the Line of Fire’
Jeremy Mardis was “caught in the line of fire,” Avoyelles Parish coroner Dr. L. J. Mayeux told the Associated Press.
The Acadiana Advocate reports the shots all came from outside the vehicle and through the driver’s side.
According to The Guardian, orange spray paint marked the orientation of Few’s car and three police vehicles on Thursday.
“The particular placement of the cars – and a spray of glass from the passenger’s side of Few’s car – seems to indicate Few was not backing toward the officers. His car was perpendicular to them, and the officers’ shots hit the driver’s side broadside,” the newspaper reports.
5. Jeremy Mardis Was a Student at a Local Elementary School
Jeremy Mardis was a student at Lafargue Elementary School in Effie, the Acadiana Advocate reports.
Blaine Dauzat, the Avoyelles School District’s superintendent, told Avoyelles Today grief counselors were sent to the school Wednesday to assist students and school employees. He also expressed grief over the boy’s death.
“Anytime an individual is killed, especially a child, it’s a tragedy,” Colonel Mike Edmonson, head of the Louisiana State Police, told the Associated Press. “The investigative team spent 12 hours Wednesday going through the entire scene from a forensic standpoint to get the trajectory of the bullets, find and count the casings and generally put the scene together.”