(Update: The two law enforcement officers who fired the shots that killed Jeremy Mardis have been indicted by the Grand Jury. I applaud the Grand Jury’s swift action and can only hope that similar steps are taken in regards to case such as Tamir Rice)
Although I have tried my best to make sense of why bad things happen to innocent children, I know that such pondering will never bring any solution; only the Lord knows why these things happen. Make no mistake about it, young people in America are, and always have been, in peril. Making things worse for these youth is a standard belief in invincibility in regards to the perils and dangers of this world. Although it is an undeniable fact that death will claim each of us, there is still a sense of injustice when someone as young as 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis is killed, this injustice only grows when it is determined that he had done nothing wrong.
Jeremy Mardis’ offense is none other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He happened to be in the passenger seat of his father’s SUV when four officers began to chase it down a dead end road in Marksville, Louisiana. Two officers’, both of whom appear to be men of color, opened fire on the vehicle with an 18 bullet barrage. Once the bullets stopped, 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis who was buckled into the front seat had been hit in the head and the chest by officers’ bullets.
State Police Colonel Michael Edmonson related the following feelings regarding the incident, “I’ve been a police officer for 35 years, but as a father — much less as a state police — it was a disturbing, disturbing video that I watched, and that really helped move us forward.”
Apparently the body camera footage was enough for law enforcement authorities to immediately arrest Officers Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, and Derrick Stafford, 32, have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
Colonel Edmonson related that his decision to arrest the two African-Americans was relatively easy. “I’ve got to deal in facts. What’s important to me is what caused those police officers to pursue? What caused them to open fire? He (Jeremy) didn’t deserve to die like that. We need to find out why.”
All indications point to the officers lying about what occurred. Their initial story was that Jeremy’s father rammed their patrol car in an attempt to flee, giving them no choice but to fire on the SUV. Once the facts of the case did not support their fictitious story, they changed their story to a failed attempt to serve an outstanding warrant; unfortunately for the officers, there are no outstanding warrants for the vehicle’s driver.
According to Edmonson, “There were a lot of shots fired that night and they were coming in one direction. There’s nothing for us that indicates that any fire came from that SUV. There was no weapon found in that SUV.”
Now I am certain that many people are expecting a writer who focuses upon racial matters, African-American manhood, and Black popular culture would take the position of an apologists for the actions of these two officers, one of which is most certainly an African-American, with an argument that amounts to little more than ‘but look at how many of our young people have been killed by white officers.’ Those expecting that argument will be sadly disappointed. If these ‘boys in blue’ are guilty of what they have been charged with, none of us should rest until they are placed under the jail. One must remember that in all likelihood they reside in our midst and there is no telling what type of damage these murderers have done to damage our neighborhoods.
Although you will not find a racially tinged apology here, that does not mean that racial matters are non-existent in this case. I guarantee you that the vast majority of African-Americans not only celebrate the arrest of these officers’, but also would like to prod law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to follow Colonel Edmonson’s lead and move quick, fast, and in a hurry to prosecute officers, regardless of their race/ethnicity, who have violated the rights of American citizens, regardless of their race/ethnicity. For this nation to survive, the Law must be equally applied to all on a consistent basis.
An inequitable application of the Law is what leads African-Americans to rally together with movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’. Only freedom, justice, and liberty for all can stamp out racial inequalities; unfortunately, too few law enforcement authorities fail to behave in an appropriate manner when it comes to one of their own and leave African-Americans little other recourse than to protest in American streets to ensure that their voices are heard. Bravo Colonel Edmonson, I wish more of your contemporaries would move forward with such courage when faced with such tough decisions.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.
©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2015.