Louisiana Record

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Autistic child's wrongful death suit heads to court

By Gianni da Costa | Nov 7, 2016

MARKSVILLE – The family of Jeremy Mardis has filed a civil lawsuit against Marksville, Avoyelles Parish and several police officers. The suit seeks to obtain damages due to Mardis' death after he was shot by police while in a car with his father, Chris Few.

Mardis, who was diagnosed with autism at age two, was allegedly still alive after being shot several times in his head and neck. The shooting took place in November 2015 when Officers Norris Greenhouse Jr. and Derrick Stafford were attempting to pull over Chris Few in his vehicle for an outstanding warrant. When the chase ended on a dead-end street, Greenhouse Jr. and Stafford fired approximately 18 rounds into Few’s car. Unfortunately, Mardis was caught in the line of fire. 

| NBC News

Although seriously wounded, Few would survive. His son, six-year-old Jeremy Mardis, lay on the ground for several minutes before finally succumbing to his fatal injuries.

Peter Russell, a former police officer of 11 years and now an attorney for McBride and Russell Law Firm in Gretna, said training is a crucial aspect of preparing a person to become a police officer.

“Well you know, I think it speaks to the current level of training for police officers in Louisiana," Russell told the Louisiana Record. "To become a law enforcement officer in this town, you only need 270 hours in the academies. And then they put you out on the road in a cop car with a gun. That’s a very, very low standard.”

Missouri’s statewide standard calls for at least 600 hours of training, Russell said. He also said a guilty verdict against the defendants doesn't mean much after the death of a child.

"Aside from getting people put in jail and giving the family some sort of compensation, does it fix the underlying problem that a poor six-year-old boy died? It does not. The state has got to wake up and realize that these horrible training standards need to be updated. We need to require individual departments to take an active role in acclimating training on the road and make them responsible for having a correct field training program,” Russell said.

Russell said he believes more training would be a part of the solution for this national problem.

“You never shoot from one moving vehicle to another moving vehicle unless you’re absolutely sure of what you’re shooting at," he said.

Part of the incident was videotaped on the body camera of Sergeant Kenneth Purnell. Purnell, along with Lieutenant Jason Brouilette, responded to the scene as backup for Greenhouse Jr. and Stafford, but did not fire any shots.

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Organizations in this Story

McBride & Russell Law Firm State of Louisiana State of Missouri