When Louisiana officer Derrick Stafford fired 14 shots into a van driven by an unarmed man with his hands raised, he wound up killing a 6-year-old boy with autism. More than a year later, justice has been served.
Stafford, 33, a former Marksville deputy marshal and one of two cops arrested in the 2015 incident, was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter Friday in a 10-2 vote by an Avoyelles Parish jury.
After the verdict, he spent about 20 minutes kissing his crying wife and saying goodbye to his family, then he left in shackles, according to The Advocate.
Christopher Few, the unarmed driver who was also shot, didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to his family. Though video showed Few had his hands out the driver’s side window, signaling that the low-speed chase he’d led officers on that night was over, Stafford and fellow officer Norris Greenhouse fired a total of 18 shots at Few’s SUV. Few was gravely wounded; his son Jeremy was killed.
Stafford reportedly cried in court when prosecutors showed him pictures of the slain boy, saying, “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.”
But Stafford’s defense couldn’t prove what the officer had maintained early in the investigation ― that Few attempted to back his vehicle into the officers. John Sinquefield, one of the prosecutors, characterized the low-speed pursuit that night as more of a “parade” than a chase, and called the shooting “an execution,” The Advocate reports.
Few testified on this week that the officers never warned him they were about to open fire. He said he learned about Jeremy’s death when he woke up in the hospital six days after the shooting.
Greenhouse, 25, faces murder charges in a separate trial in June.
Both Stafford and Greenhouse have been sued before over separate claims of excessive force or bad police work. Stafford was suspended from the Marksville Police Department in 2011 after he was indicted on rape charges, but got his job back after the charges were dismissed, the Guardian reports.