BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A deputy city marshal charged with murder after a police body camera captured a 6-year-old boy's fatal shooting is asking a Louisiana judge to throw out his indictment, saying he acted in self-defense by opening fire on a car driven by the boy's father.
Prosecutors from Attorney General Jeff Landry's office said the video shows two deputy marshals firing from "a safe distance" as Christopher Few's car was backing away from them. "Perhaps most important, it shows Few with his hands in the air pleading for the officers to stop firing. They did not," prosecutors wrote in a filing this week.
But Derrick Stafford's attorneys say the video recording lacks audio for the first 27 seconds, making it impossible to determine if Stafford started shooting before or after Few raised his hands inside the car. Neither deputy knew that Few's son, Jeremy Mardis, was strapped in the front seat until after they stopped shooting, Stafford's attorneys added.
Stafford's lawyers claim Few ignored officers' commands to stop and rammed into a vehicle that another deputy marshal, Norris Greenhouse Jr., was exiting.
Stafford and Greenhouse drew their weapons after the "aggressive actions" of Few, who drove forward and then backed the car toward the officers again, Stafford's attorneys said.
"At this point, Stafford, out of fear for his life and that of his fellow officers, began shooting at the vehicle to prevent any further actions by Few which would put the officers in imminent danger," they wrote.
State District Court Judge William Bennett is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday on Stafford's motion to quash his indictment.
"A review of the indictment by the court would show that the state does not state any allegations of fact that would satisfy the essential element of specific intent for the offenses charged whereby trier of fact could support a conviction," Stafford's attorneys wrote.
State Police have said the deputies opened fire on Few's car after a pursuit joined by a third deputy marshal and Marksville Police Sgt. Kenneth Parnell III. A police report says video from Parnell's body camera shows Few's empty hands were raised and visible inside the vehicle when gunfire erupted. The video hasn't been publicly released.
Stafford and Greenhouse await separate trials on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges. Few was critically wounded in the shooting.
Stafford, a Marksville police lieutenant, and Greenhouse, a former Marksville police officer, were moonlighting as deputy marshals on the night of the Nov. 3, 2015, shooting.
Stafford's trial is scheduled to start Nov. 28; Greenhouse has a March 13, 2017, trial date.
However, in another court filing this week, Stafford's attorneys asked Bennett to consolidate the cases for a single trial.