Stafford says he shot 'to stop a threat'
Wiping away tears and pausing before resuming his testimony, Derrick Stafford viewed medical examiner photographs of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis.
Stafford was the first witness for the defense Friday morning as his trial for the 2nd degree murder of the child and attempted 2nd degree murder of the boy’s father, Christopher Few, continued.
Assistant Attorney General John Sinquefield closed his cross-examination of Stafford by presenting him a photo the child after he was shot to death at a traffic stop on Nov. 3, 2015.
"Do these photos show you what a .40 cal. Glock will do to a 6-year-old boy," he asked without waiting for an answer.
Defense attorney Jonathan Goins then asked Stafford, “How did looking at those photographs make you feel?”
Stafford asked 12th Judicial District Judge Billy Bennett for permission to speak bluntly and then said, “It makes me feel like shit.”
He said it made him think of his children -- one an older 6-year-old, one who just recently turned 6 and one who is 5.
During his testimony, Stafford maintained that he fired his ,40 cal. Glock pistol only to “stop a threat,” and to protect the lives of himself and other officers.
Like a shark sensing blood in the water, Sinquefield kept hitting Stafford over the crucial fact of whether Few ever posed a threat and whether officers’ actions that night were appropriate or reasonable.
Sinquefield’s “questions” resulted in several objections from Goins and three motions for a mistrial.
Bennett upheld most of the objections, admonishing Sinquefield to ask questions, not give testimony himself, and instructing the jurors to disregard the attorney’s comments. The judge denied the motions for mistrial.
Stafford was a passenger in the Marksville City Marshal’s unit driven by Jason Brouillette that night. He said they were responding to Norris Greenhouse Jr.’s call for assistance when they saw Few’s Kia Sport coming toward them on Preston Street. Brouillette angled his vehicle to block Few, but Few went around the patrol unit. There was no contact between the two vehicles.
Greenhouse is facing the same charges as Stafford but will go to trial on June 12.
Stafford said Few backed up and struck Greenhouse’s vehicle while Greenhouse was standing at the front of the car. Few pulled forward, looked back and was backing up again.
Sinquefield emphasized that Stafford, Greenhouse and Brouillette were all on the grassy area facing the driver’s side of Few’s vehicle when the shooting began.
“When he started to back up, you started shooting your weapon,” Sinquefield said. He then pointed out that Few was backing away from the officers and the parked patrol cars, in an apparent attempt to leave the scene.
Stafford maintained that Few was backing toward Greenhouse, posing a threat to the officer’s safety.
Sinquefield noted that Stafford said he shouted loudly for Few to put up his hands. “Then, when he puts up his hands, you shoot him,” he said, in the form of a question.
“I did not see his hands go up,” Stafford said.
Sinquefield called Stafford’s .40 cal. pistol “a mankiller.”
“What did you intend to do,” the attorney asked. “Did you intend to kill him?”
Stafford said he did not intend to kill Few, but only to “stop a threat.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that if you point a .40 cal. pistol at someone and pull the trigger that you may kill someone,” Sinquefield asked.
“That’s a possibility,” Stafford answered.
“No, that’s a certainty,” Sinquefield replied.