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Thursday 27 April 2017

Jeremy Mardis shooting: Police release body camera footage of six-year-old boy killed by officer

Louisiana State Police Superintendent describes footage as 'the most disturbing thing I've seen'

Samuel Osborne

Police have released body camera footage showing two officers firing on a car and killing a six-year-old boy in Louisiana.

Jeremy Mardis was fatally shot by officers Derrick Stafford, 32, and Norris Greenhouse Jr, 23, last November in Marksville as they pursued his father, Chris Few.

Chris Few and his son Jeremy Mardis (Louisiana Police Department)
Chris Few and his son Jeremy Mardis (Louisiana Police Department)

Prosecutors and defense attorneys previously described in writing how the footage depicts the shooting, which stops less than a minute into the video.

The rest of the 14 minutes of footage shows the aftermath of the shooting, as the officer with the body camera checks on the lifeless body of Jeremy Mardis while his critically wounded father lies bleeding on the pavement.

Prosecutors showed the video in court on Wednesday to support their Stafford  had a pattern of using excessive violence, including during the fatal shooting.

Matthew Derbes, a prosecutor from the Louisiana attorney general's office, said Stafford's pattern of hurting people he's arresting also provides a motive for shooting at Mr Few while his hands were raised.

"Motive is something the jury wants to hear," Mr Derbes said. "Why would they do this?"

Defense attorneys for Stafford and Greenhouse Jr argue the deputies acted in self-defence.

Derrick Stafford, 32, and Norris Greenhouse Jr, 23, await separate trials on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges (Louisiana Police Department)
Derrick Stafford, 32, and Norris Greenhouse Jr, 23, await separate trials on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges (Louisiana Police Department)

They claim Mr Few drove recklessly while leading officers on a two-mile chase and then rammed into Greenhouse's vehicle as he was exiting it, before he and Stafford opened fire.

"Christopher Few was a suspect before they knew that child was in the car," said Christopher LaCour, one of Stafford's attorneys.

While the video doesn't capture the entire pursuit, state District Court Judge William Bennett noted that the footage doesn't show Mr Few's car posing a threat to the officers as they fired.

"That car was not being used as a deadly weapon at that time," Mr Bennett said. "I daresay it was not even close to being used as a deadly weapon at that time."

The video, shot from the body camera worn by Marksville Police Sergeant Kenneth Parnell III, lacks audio for the first 27 seconds - the officers begin shooting before the audio begins.

After the shooting and sirens stop, somebody yells at Mr Few to show his hands. He appears slumped over the blood-stained door when officers approach him.

"I never saw a kid in the car, man," Stafford says. "I never saw a kid, bro."

Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent, described the footage as "the most disturbing thing I've seen".

Investigators later traced 14 shell casings to Stafford's semi-automatic handgun, and determined four other shell casings recovered at the scene came from Greenhouse's gun.

Of the four bullet fragments recovered from the boy's body, three matched Stafford's weapon and another could not be matched to either officer.

Stafford and Greenhouse await separate trials on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges.

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