Family of slain 6-year-old files lawsuit against town of Marksville
MARKSVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A family has filed a federal lawsuit against the town where two deputy marshals will stand trial for second-degree murder.
Documents show that the lawsuit was filed Thursday, Oct. 27 on behalf of the family of Jeremy Mardis, the 6-year-old boy with autism who died after he was shot six times during an alleged traffic stop.
The child's father, Christopher Few, was also critically injured during the shooting. His injuries were so severe that he was unable to attend Jeremy's funeral because he was hospitalized.
Marksville deputy marshals Derrick Stafford and Officer Norris Greenhouse Jr. are each charged with second-degree murder and are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The shooting happened on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 and was captured on video by a police officer's body camera.
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Attorney Steven Lemoine, who is representing the family in the lawsuit, said in a statement that it is clear Few and his son's constitutional rights were violated during the incident.
"I think when you review the officer body camera video, you'll see that there was a clear violation of rights," Lemoine said.
The newly filed lawsuit alleges that the town of Marksville failed to properly train the deputies on the use of deadly force, stating that the town has no policy for such a situation.
"The need for such policies is so obvious for the safety of the public and the protection of constitutional rights that the lack of such policies constitutes deliberate indifference and a reckless disregard for the public and plaintiffs' constitutional rights," states the lawsuit. "It was not only reasonably foreseeable but also a virtual certainty that authorized firearms would be used by deputy city marshals in making arrests and preserving the peace."
Lemoine said he put in several public records requests asking for those documents but said each time, he was unsuccessful.
"The response for all of my requests were 'no such records are found.' I think it's completely inadequate," Lemoine said.
Including Stafford and Greenhouse, the lawsuit defendants include the town and city court, the Parish of Avoyelles, City Court Marshal Floyd Voinche, and deputy marshals Jason Brouillette and Kenneth Parnell, III.
The investigation has revealed that Greenhouse fired his weapon four times and Stafford fired his weapon 14 times. Brouillette and Parnell also responded to the scene but were found to have not fired their weapons.
"There was no precipitating gunfire by Christopher and there was no return fire," states the lawsuit. "Any objectively reasonable officer presented with the same similar circumstances as those with which Stafford and Greenhouse were presented, would not have used deadly force against Christopher and Jeremy, and Stafford and Greenhouse in doing so violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs."
Stafford and Greenhouse both have a prior history of using excessive force during arrests, claims the lawsuit. The lawsuit includes several complaints as well as "numerous" civil lawsuits against the two.
"Voinche's failure to properly vet Stafford and Greenhouse and scrutinize their backgrounds, couples with City Court, the Town and Parish's failure to have an adequate or proper hiring policy resulted in Voinche appointing two deputy city marshals who had a long history of the use of excessive force that should have excluded them from serving as deputy city marshals."
Additionally, the lawsuit addresses the amount of time it took for the responding officers to render aid to both Jeremy and his father.
"It was not until approximately some seven and one-half to eight minutes or so after the hail of gunfire, that an officer at the scene, believed to be Parnell, finally checked Jeremy for a pulse and discovered that he was still alive, despite having been shot multiple times including in the head and the neck," states the lawsuit. "However, none of the officers at the scene, including Stafford, Greenhouse, Brouillette and Parnell initiated or rendered any form of first aid, nor did they undertake any other measures in an attempt to stop Jeremy's bleeding or otherwise alleviate or mitigate Jeremy's suffering, or made any attempts to save his life. Sadly, Jeremy was left to suffer – and die – while the officers casually searched for 'gloves.'"
Stafford's trial is scheduled to being on Monday, Nov. 28.
A continuance was granted for Greenhouse and a new date for his trial has not yet been scheduled.
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