MARKSVILLE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana man lay wounded in the hospital as his 6-year-old son was laid to rest, both victims of a shooting authorities say was carried out by two law enforcement officers who now face charges.
A police body camera recorded the father, Chris Few, with his hands up and posing no threat as police fired into his car, severely wounding Few and killing his son, the man’s lawyer said.
“This was not a threatening situation for the police,” said Mark Jeansonne, an attorney for Chris Few, who remained hospitalized and could not attend Monday’s funeral of his son, Jeremy Mardis.
Few’s condition was improving Monday, but as of midday, he had not been told that his son is dead, Jeansonne said. His stepfather, Morris German, said last week that Few had bullet fragments in his brain and lung.
The officers, Derrick Stafford, 32, and Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, were ordered held on $1 million bonds on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges during a hearing, Jeansonne said.
The lawyer said he hasn’t seen the body camera video himself, but its contents were described during the hearing. Louisiana’s state police chief, Col. Mike Edmonson, said Friday that “it’s the most disturbing thing I’ve seen — and I will leave it at that.”
Greenhouse is the son of a top assistant prosecutor for District Attorney Charles A. Riddle, who recused himself from the case, calling it “not good for any of us.”
Judge William Bennett set the officers’ bond during a hearing he held inside the jail after refusing news media requests to open the proceedings. No transcripts were made available, and the judge later issued a sweeping gag order prohibiting anyone involved in the case, including potential witnesses and victims, from providing any information to the media.
Investigators have been reviewing forensics evidence, 911 calls and body camera recordings, but said little about them even before the gag order.
The official silence leaves many questions unanswered, including what prompted the fatal confrontation, and whether anyone else is being investigated for any crimes. At least two other officers were involved, authorities said, but their roles remain unclear.
Investigators have not suggested that race is a factor in the shooting, which may not fit neatly into a national debate about race and policing. Booking records describe the officers as African-American; no available records describe the race of the father and son.
Few, a boat pilot on the Red River, was on probation at the time of the shooting after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated in February, according to court records.
Stafford is a Marksville Police lieutenant; Greenhouse is a city marshal. Both were on marshal duty Tuesday night. Initial reports suggested they were trying to serve Few with a warrant when he fled onto a dead-end road and then reversed his car in their direction at about 9:30 p.m.
But Edmonson said there was no evidence of a warrant, nor any gun at the scene.
The officers were moved from the jail in Marksville to a lockup in the central Louisiana city of Alexandria after Monday’s bond hearing, for reasons no one would explain, citing the gag order.
The possibility that they could post bond and remain free during the investigation didn’t sit well with some townspeople who gathered outside the jail.
“The same day the boy is being buried,” said Barbara Scott. “Shame, shame, shame.”
“This child couldn’t hurt a fly and his life is gone. I feel justice was not served,” added Latasha Murray.
Jeremy Mardis was by all accounts a happy first-grader at Lafargue Elementary in Effie, Louisiana, where he attended school after his parents split and he moved to Marksville, where his father’s family lives.
Jeremy was mourned Monday at his funeral in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where his mother, Katie Mardis, lives with the boy’s sister.
“He was just a very sweet loving little boy who enjoyed being at school and enjoyed his friends,” said Anita Bonnette, his assistant principal at Lafargue, where a crisis team was brought in to counsel Jeremy’s classmates and teachers.
Santana reported from Hattiesburg, Mississippi.