6-Yr-Old Child Writhed in Pain After Cops Shot Him, Died: Lawsuit
(CN) — Two Louisiana police officers who shot a six-year-old autistic boy to death at the conclusion of a high speed car chase with his father were improperly trained, the child’s family claims in a lawsuit.
In a complaint filed in the federal court in Alexandria, Louisiana Oct. 26, the boy’s father, Chris Few, and other family members claim the two deputy city marshals who opened fire on the car in which the boy, Jeremy Mardis, was sitting, had long histories of violence on the job, where never trained not to shoot to kill, and were hired by a department with no standing hiring policies in place.
As recounted in the 96-page complaint, Few says he has no idea what precipitated the car chase or his being pursued by deputies Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. on the evening of Nov. 3, 2015.
During the chase two other officers, Jason Brouillette and Kenneth Parnell III, were called in as backup.
To date, the complaint says, Greenhouse “has yet to provide a reason for having initiated the stop to any law enforcement personnel officially involved in the investigation of these events.”
Few says the chase ended when he unknowingly drove onto a dead-end street. The four officers stopped at the opening of dead-in.
Once stopped, “Stafford and Greenhouse immediately exited each of their vehicles and drew their duty weapons — .40-caliber semi-automatic pistols loaded with jacketed hollow-point bullets — and aimed them at Christopher Few,” the lawsuit said.
Few was told to put his hands up in the air — and he did.
“Despite [Few] putting his empty hands in the air, Stafford and Greenhouse almost immediately began firing their duty weapons at Christopher Few and Jeremy Mardis.”
Greenhouse fired four times and Stafford fired a total of 14 times into the car.
“There was no precipitating gunfire by Christopher and there was no return fire,” the lawsuit says.
Jeremy Mardis was later pronounced dead at the scene, but his family says he did not immediately die from his wounds, and suffered for a period of time before dying.
Body camera footage released since the boy’s death reveals the police officers made no effort to check his pulse for life or render first aid for several minutes after the shooting, the lawsuit says.
During a news conference last year, Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said the video was the most disturbing thing he had seen, according to an account from the Associated Press.
The video shows Few collapsed and bleeding on the ground and his son’s lifeless body still strapped in the front seat.
“Any objectively reasonable officer would and should have concluded that deadly force was not necessary or justified as no imminent threat of death or great bodily harm existed when Stafford and Greenhouse began firing,” the lawsuit says.
The boy, though pronounced dead at the scene, writhed in pain for approximately ten minutes before finally dying, his family’s lawsuit said.
“Stafford, Greenhouse, Brouillette and Parnell did not render or provide first aid, timely medical treatment or any comfort measures intended to alleviate pain and suffering to Christopher or Jeremy.”
Few was placed in handcuffs shortly after, but body camera video shows that the officers did not search Few or his car immediately following the shooting, “making it apparent that they did not perceive Christopher or Jeremy as an imminent threat or risk of death or great bodily harm.”
“In fact, each of the officers at the scene appear to have holstered or otherwise secured their weapons prior to Christopher ever being handcuffed or otherwise secured,” the lawsuit says.
Greenhouse and Stafford were arrested by the Louisiana State Police on second degree murder charges days following the shootings.
The bolster their argument that Stafford and Greenhouse had a history of employing excessive force on the job, the family pointed to a series of incidents that have occurred since 2011.
In January 2011, the family says, police were called to intervene in a dispute between a young mother and a tow truck driver. Among the officers who responded to the scene was Stafford, who forcefully put the mother in handcuffs — despite that she was carrying an infant — and forced her into the back of a patrol car.
Once she was in the car, Stafford used a stun gun on her multiple times, the lawsuit claims.
In June 2011, Stafford used a stun gun on the chest of a man who was handcuffed and already in police, the family says.
In December, 2012, Stafford jumped on top of a 16-year-old girl on a school bus and broke her arm after police were called to break up a fight in which the girl was being bullied. A lawsuit was later filed, court documents say.
In July, 2012, Stafford ordered a false warrant and arrest of a man who had complained about the officer’s conduct during a parade. After the man’s arrest, Stafford was accused of using excessive force while handcuffing him.
The current lawsuit was filed by Christopher Few; his sister, Candace Few; and Catherine Mardis, the mother of the dead child.
They seek damages for wrongful death and civil rights violations, including excessive force and failure to train.
Stafford and Greenhouse continue to await separate trials for the charges of second degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
Stafford’s murder trial is set to begin Nov. 28. Greenhouse’s trial is slated for March 13, 2017.
The boy’s family are represented by Steven Lemoine of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Published by Courthouse News Service.
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