A judge has ordered two Louisiana police officers be held on $1 million bond as they await trial for their involvement in the shooting death of a 6-year-old autistic boy last Tuesday.
Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. have been charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder after they fired multiple shots at Chris Few’s car in Marksville, La. Mr. Few was injured in the encounter and remains hospitalized. His 6-year-old son, Jeremy Mardis, was killed.
The bond hearing was closed to the public, so the justification for the size of the bond is unknown, but the size of the bond – as well as the few statements investigators have made on the case so far – give an indication of how serious the situation is for the two officers.
Bond is typically determined by two main factors: whether the defendant is likely to reoffend, and whether they pose a flight risk. More serious or dangerous crimes typically incite a higher the bond. Sometimes bond can be denied altogether, as it was to a former officer in South Carolina charged with murder in an on-duty shooting earlier this year.
The two officers were arrested on Friday, three days after the shooting. In a news conference after the arrest, Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson called body camera footage of the incident "the most disturbing thing I’ve seen."
"Nothing is more important than the integrity of this badge. Tonight, the badge has been tarnished by these two individuals," Edmonson added, according to ABC affiliate WBRZ.
The circumstances surrounding the shooting are still being investigated, but Few's attorney, Mark Jeansonne, said on Monday that police body camera video from the incident shows that Few had his hands up and posed no threat to police.
"This was not a threatening situation for the police," said Mr. Jeansonne.
Jeansonne said he hasn't seen the video, but its contents were described to the judge during Monday's closed-door bond hearing, he said.
Few's condition is improving, Jeansonne added, but he still hasn’t been told that his son died at the scene.
Besides body camera footage, investigators have also been reviewing forensic evidence and 911 calls.
State police have declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation, but initial reports suggested the officers were serving a warrant on Few when the shooting happened. Edmonson, however, said there was no evidence a warrant was issued. No gun was found on the scene, he added, and the boy had died while still buckled into the front seat of the car.
Jeremy is to be buried this afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss. He had recently moved to Louisiana from Hattiesburg.
Monday brought some other developments related to the trial of the two officers. District Attorney Charles A. Riddle recused himself from the case because one of his top assistant prosecutors is Greenhouse’s father and their personal relationship would be a "conflict with the fair and impartial administration of justice," according to a copy of the recusal order obtained by ABC. The state attorney general's office will take over the prosecution.
The case is "not good for any of us," Mr. Riddle said.
Both officers were working in their secondary capacity as part-time deputy marshals in Marksville’s Ward 2 on Tuesday when they fired at Few's car. Stafford is a full-time lieutenant with the Marksville Police Department; Greenhouse is a full-time city marshal.
"This is a complex case, it's got a lot of moving parts," Edmonson said in his press conference on Friday. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us, we've got a lot of things to do."
"This is a very tragic time," he added. "Jeremy Mardis…he didn't deserve to die like that."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.