Marksville Police Chief Elster Smith identified the four officers involved in the incident in which a 6-year-old boy was shot and killed and his father wounded Tuesday night in Marksville. They are:
* Lt. Derrick Stafford, who has served 8 years with the Marksville Police Department;
* Lt. Jason Brouillette, a 13-year veteran with the Marksville Police Department;
* Sgt. Kenneth Parnell, who has served 5 years with the Marksville Police Department;
* Norris Greenhouse, Jr., who is a reserve officer for the Marksville Police Department.
Stafford, Brouillette and Greenhouse were moonlighting at the time of the incident for the Marksville Ward 2 Marshal, while Parnell was working for the Marksville Police Department. All of the officers have been placed on administrative leave, he said.
Smith said the department has no policies on use of force, nor does the organization have rules about whether officers are allowed to shoot at vehicles. Smith said the agency has some policies regarding officer conduct, and added he will provide those documents later.
Smith said he could not provide more information about the sequence of events that led to the shooting, citing the pending investigation.
MARKSVILLE — There’s no evidence that the man who led deputy city marshals on a chase ending in a hail of gunfire from officers, leaving his 6-year-old son dead, had a weapon in his vehicle or that anyone besides law enforcement shot weapons during the encounter, the superintendent of Louisiana State Police said Thursday.
Jeremy David Mardis, a first-grader from the town of Effie, was shot multiple times in the head and torso when deputy marshals opened fire on his father’s car after penning it in at the end of a chase Tuesday night in Marksville, a city of 5,700 in Avoyelles Parish.
Dr. L.J. Mayeaux Jr., the parish coroner, said Jeremy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Jeremy’s father, 25-year-old Christopher Few, who was also shot multiple times, remains hospitalized in Alexandria, State Police spokesman Daniel “Scott” Moreau said Thursday.
Col. Mike Edmonson, the State Police superintendent, said at a news conference with local authorities that investigators have been focused on gathering ballistics evidence from Few’s vehicle. Edmonson said State Police, who were called in to investigate the shooting, haven’t yet been able to interview the officers involved in the shooting but have received brief written statements from each.
“We attempted to interview the officers that night, and they did not want to be interviewed,” Edmonson said.
In total, four officers were involved in the incident: the three deputy marshals who pursued Few and an on-duty Marksville police officer who responded to requests for backup, Marksville Police Chief Elster Smith Jr. said.
Edmonson said investigators have video of the shooting but said it hadn’t yet been analyzed, and he wasn’t sure yet what it shows. None of the police cars involved in the incident have dashboard cameras, but Smith said his officers wear body cameras while on duty.
A woman, described by a companion as Few’s girlfriend, interrupted the news conference several times Thursday with pointed criticism, asking why the officers were apparently unable to spot the child in the passenger seat of the car and why the officers didn’t use less deadly means to end the chase.
Edmonson said those questions are among the many investigators will be working to answer during what he said could be a lengthy inquiry into the shooting.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Edmonson said. “Let me tell you: We need to know it first.”
It remains unclear why the deputy marshals — a local office similar to a constable usually charged with serving warrants, subpoenas and other court documents — began pursuing Few.
Edmonson and District Attorney Charles Riddle III both said they were unaware of any outstanding warrants for Few’s arrest. Records in both Marksville city court and the area district court show several traffic violations and a recent DWI conviction but no outstanding warrants or ongoing criminal cases.
The pursuit ended at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Taensas Street, where the marshals blocked in Few’s small SUV in front of the gates to the Marksville State Historic Park.
Authorities declined Thursday to say how many of the officers fired their weapons or just how many rounds were shot into the vehicle. Neighbors said Wednesday they heard rapid gunfire after seeing the police cars barrel down Martin Luther King Drive toward the park. One reported six or seven shots while another said he heard “10 to 13, at least.”
Mayeaux, the coroner, said the bullets appeared to all have been fired from outside through the driver’s side of the vehicle.
What exactly prompted the officers to open fire remains unclear. The Town Talk in Alexandria reported that Few threw his truck into reverse and tried to run his car into one of the marshal’s vehicles, but Edmonson and other officials said Thursday they could not discuss what might have led to the shooting.
Marksville Ward 2 Marshal Floyd Voinche Sr. said two of the deputy marshals had been serving warrants Thursday and that the third had been working on a traffic patrol. Two of the deputy marshals are also full-time Marksville police officers; the third, a reserve officer in Marksville, also works as a deputy city marshal in Alexandria, Smith said.
Voinche said he won’t return any of the deputy marshals to duty until the state investigation into the shooting is complete.
“I don’t want them back out there until all this is over,” said Voinche, who declined to speak directly about the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation.
Whether the officers will be placed on leave with the Marksville Police Department hasn’t yet been determined, Smith said. The chief said he needs to consult with the city’s attorney and the city council before taking any of the officers off active duty, although Edmonson said during the news conference that he would advise the chief to place the them on administrative leave.
Smith said it is not unusual for his officers to hold part-time jobs with other departments and that the officers have been working for the City Marshal’s Office for three or four months.
Marksville Mayor John Lemoine said Voinche had hired deputies and acquired the patrol cars “about three months ago” and had started issuing citations — including traffic tickets — within the city limits, something Lemoine said went far beyond the marshal’s normal role, adding that city officials had been unable to get an explanation from Voinche.
“You can’t get in touch with him; he’s never come before us,” Lemoine said. “There’s no communication.”
Just where the limits of the City Marshal’s Office lie, though, is the source of some dispute: Lemoine asked in a Sept. 1 letter to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office for an opinion on whether Voinche’s deputies are legally allowed to write citations inside the city limits. The Attorney General’s Office has not yet issued an opinion on the matter.
Voinche, a school bus driver who has served as marshal for the past 12 years and was recently re-elected unopposed, said he has full jurisdiction within Avoyelles Parish’s Ward 2, which includes all of Marksville and some of the surrounding area.
The Marksville City Court, which includes the City Marshal’s Office, is also embroiled in an ongoing legal dispute with the city of Marksville over its budget. Documents in the lawsuit indicate the city stopped issuing paychecks to court staff, including Voinche.
Voinche did not appear at Thursday’s news conference and both Edmonson and Smith said they had not invited him or spoken to him since the shooting.