A Louisiana jury on Friday found a law enforcement officer guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old autistic boy following a vehicle pursuit in 2015.
Derrick Stafford and another deputy city marshal fired on a vehicle driven by the boy’s father after a 2-mile chase. The boy, Jeremy Mardis, was killed and his father, Christopher Few, was wounded.
The jury in Marksville found Stafford guilty of manslaughter for Jeremy's death and found him guilty of attempted manslaughter in the wounding of Few.
During the trial Few said he heard no warnings from law enforcement before the officers fired.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said he was pleased with the verdict.
"As we have said all along, our goal in this case was to get justice for Jeremy Mardis, his family, and the people of Louisiana," Landry said in a statement. "Today, that happened."
Stafford testified he shot at the car because he feared Few was going to back up and hit the other deputy, Norris Greenhouse Jr.
"I felt I had no choice but to save Norris. That is the only reason I fired my weapon," Stafford said.
Greenhouse, 25, faces a separate trial later this year. Both Stafford and Greenhouse were arrested on charges of second-degree murder.
Stafford cried when a prosecutor showed him photographs of the slain first-grader. He said he didn't know the boy was in the car when he fired and didn't see his father's hands in the air.
"Never in a million years would I have fired my weapon if I knew a child was in that car. I would have called off the pursuit myself," Stafford said.
Two other officers at the scene — a third deputy city marshal and a Marksville police officer — didn't fire their weapons that night. Prosecutors said the officers weren't in any danger and shot at the car from a safe distance, with none of their bullets hitting the front or back of Few's vehicle.
Stafford, a Marksville police lieutenant, and Greenhouse, a former Marksville police officer, were moonlighting on the night of the shooting.