Louisiana Cop Found Guilty Of Killing Autistic Child In Shootout

"Never in a million years did I know a child was in that vehicle. I would have called off the pursuit myself."

By Eric Shorey

Derrick Stafford, a Louisiana police officer, has been found guilty for the manslaughter and convicted of attempted murder following the death of autistic 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis in a shooting that occurred during a chase. Mardis had been hit with five bullets.

According to CNN, Stafford had claimed that he was defending fellow officers when he fired into the car driven by Mardis' father Christopher Few. "It makes me feel horrible," Stafford said of the incident. "I have children the same age."

"Never in a million years did I know a child was in that vehicle. I would have called off the pursuit myself. That is the truth," he told the jury. Stafford was said to have cried during the trial.

A judge had previously released video of the incident, in which officers can be heard asking each other who opened fire. The incident highlights the importance of police body-cams, which led to the swift arrest of the officers involved. The original testimony from officers seems to have been largely false, with the cops claiming that Few had resisted arrest and had used his car to attack police. This was directly contradicted by video evidence.

“This was not a threatening situation for the police,” said Mark Jeansonne, Few’s attorney.

Another marshal involved in the shooting, Norris Greenhouse, was also indicted on second degree murder charges. He faces his own trial later this year.

“Nothing is more important than this badge that we wear on our uniform, the integrity of why we wear it,” Louisiana State Police Col. Michael Edmonson said when Stafford and Greenhouse were arrested. “It’s not a right, it’s a privilege. And tonight that badge has been tarnished."

[Screengrab: NBC News]

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