Verdict in: Stafford found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter

Derrick Stafford left and his defense attorneys

An Avoyelles Parish jury convicted a former Marksville deputy marshal of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in a shooting at the end of a chase that left a 6-year-old boy dead and the boy's father seriously wounded.

Stafford was one of two deputy city marshals, along with Norris Greenhouse Jr., charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder over the November 2015 shooting that killed Jeremy Mardis and critically wounded his father, Christopher Few, after a auto chase. He had faced charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in the case.

A few minutes later, Stafford told jurors through tears that the pictures made him think of his own child.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said he was pleased with the verdict.

Stafford, 33, was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, a conviction which carries a sentence of 15 to 40 years, WAFB reported.

"I felt I had no choice but to save Norris. That is the only reason I fired my weapon", said Stafford.

During their patrol, Stafford and his colleague Norris Greenhouse pulled over 26-year-old Christopher Few.

Later, an officer is heard saying, "I never saw a kid in the auto, bro".

The Advocate reported that Stafford shot at the auto because he feared Few was going to reverse at Greenhouse and that he never knew the child was in the vehicle. "I would have called off the pursuit myself", Stafford said. He was eventually reinstated after prosecutors dropped the charges, but later became the target of a lawsuit charging he had used excessive force or neglected his duties as a police officer.

What Stafford didn't know when he riddled the vehicle with 14 bullets was that Few's autistic son, Jeremy Mardis, was inside.

Mardis and Few, who was unarmed, are both white and Stafford and Greenhouse Jr black.

Stafford and Greenhouse are black.

Defense attorneys accused investigators of rushing to judgment, arresting the officers less than a week after the shooting. Greenhouse will be tried later this year.

Prosecutors also stated that he had drugs and alcohol in his system at the time of the shooting.

But prosecutors said none of the father's actions that night can justify the deadly response.

Body cam footage captured the encounter showing Stafford, 33, and another officer opening fire on a vehicle with 18 shots.

Few testified on this week that the officers never warned him they were about to open fire.

After waking up from unconsciousness six days later (the day of Mardis' funeral) Few finally realized what had happened.

A prosecutor, Matthew Derbes, asked Few if he regrets not stopping his auto when he saw the blue lights from an officer's vehicle.

"Most definitely", Few responded.

But he insisted he was driving safely and wasn't trying to escape.

The defense said Few was "the author of that child's fate" because he was the one who led the police on a treacherous, high-speed chase.

Stafford's lawyers accused the 26-year-old of leading the four officers on a unsafe, high-speed chase and stated that he had rammed his vehicle into Greenhouse's police auto before he was shot.

The News reports he was suspended from the Marksville Police Department after getting indicted on rape charges in 2011.

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