"Six years old...he didn't deserve to die like that." -Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police
I agree with those words. Six year old Jeremy Mardis, described in all news accounts as an autistic young child, was caught between the fired guns of Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr that were intended for Jeremy's father Chris Few.
Many people have been asking for our take on this at Humanizing the Badge and honestly as I've looked at the information available, I'm left with more questions than answers. Contrary to the popular opinion of many a cynic, police officers don't automatically assume that "cops are always right" or that cops believe we have nothing left to learn from current events.
The reality is that sometimes cops are crooked and sometimes they violate their oaths with every intention of selfish gain or to seek the harm of another rather than their safety. The reality is that sometimes cops make mistakes. Cops suffer from the same disease of imperfection as every other human being that has or will walk the planet. Due to the nature of law enforcement jobs and expectations, those mistakes sometimes carry an unbearable weight.
We believe there was a vehicle pursuit of some kind involved but outside of that, little is known to the public that is yet to see the body camera evidence that appears to be a nail in the proverbial coffin for bringing charges against Stafford and Greenhouse, who were acting in the capacity of "deputy marshals." For that matter, it is unclear to me what the scope of enforcement power is for a deputy marshal or what type of warrant they believed Few to have, if he even had any, when they tried stopping him; I don't even know if vehicle pursuits are permitted in their enforcement powers.
What I do know is that living with the death of a 6 year old child will not be easy. I agree 100% that Jeremy Mardis didn't deserve this. However, just who will be living with that guilt is simply too unclear to resolve for me right now. Not because I'm only pro-police, but because I'm all about objectivity of facts. There is no doubt Stafford and Greenhouse shot their weapons and that a child died in the process, an unimaginable tragedy for sure; however, what Few's part was in this will perhaps come to light in greater details as the case unfolds. And yes, I'm aware that both of these marshal's have some past situations that at the very least look damning on the face of things. However, this situation will need to be judged on the facts that surround it and not by reading things into it. Perhaps, if some of these past situations would have been dealt with, something like this could have been avoided and if that's the case, more than just the two that fired the guns have blood on their hands.
But before we draw our lines in the sand on this one, let's just all take a few moments to mourn that we live in a world where this happens and seek forgiveness in the ways we contribute to such a place.