AP NewsBreak: Officer in boy’s death accused of badge misuse
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana law enforcement officer charged with murder in a 6-year-old boy’s fatal shooting had engaged in a pattern of abusing his badge to “satisfy his sexual desires,” prosecutors claim in a court filing disclosing the lurid allegations.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office fired Norris Greenhouse Jr. after the mother of a 14-year-old girl complained in 2012 that she found him lying on a sofa with her daughter while he was dressed in his sheriff’s office uniform, prosecutors said in Friday’s filing.
Prosecutors also claim Greenhouse made “sexual advances” toward the then-girlfriend of Christopher Few before the November 2015 shooting that critically wounded Few and killed his son, Jeremy Mardis. Few led Greenhouse and three other officers on a 2-mile (3-kilometer) car chase before the deadly shooting in Marksville.
Prosecutors argue that jurors for Greenhouse’s trial should hear these allegations because they could help explain why Greenhouse initiated the pursuit.
Greenhouse “has established a pattern of approaching women or teenage girls while ‘on the clock’ as a law enforcement officer and using the means at his disposal due to said employment to solicit those victims in an effort to satisfy his sexual desires,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Derbes wrote.
George Higgins III, Greenhouse’s attorney, said in a statement that prosecutors’ allegations are a “thinly veiled attempt to tarnish my client’s reputation prior to trial by using clearly inadmissible and unfounded allegations.”
“We know the public is smart enough to know a distraction when they see one, but apparently (Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office) believes this to be helpful in determining what happened the night of the shooting. (Landry’s office) is well-aware that these allegations are irrelevant, and inadmissible at trial,” Higgins said.
Greenhouse, 25, and a second officer, 33-year-old Derrick Stafford, were indicted on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
A judge sentenced Stafford to 40 years in prison after a jury convicted him on March 24 of lesser charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.
Greenhouse’s separate trial on murder charges is scheduled to start June 12.
Stafford, who was a Marksville police lieutenant, and Greenhouse, a former Marksville police officer, were moonlighting as deputies for the city marshal on the night of the shooting.
Greenhouse, whose father is a longtime prosecutor in Avoyelles Parish, resigned from the Marksville Police Department in 2014.
Last Friday’s court filing says the sheriff’s office fired Greenhouse “for abandoning his job” shortly after the January 2012 incident involving the 14-year-old girl.
Greenhouse had placed his gun belt and jacket on the floor but was wearing his full sheriff’s office uniform when the girl’s mom walked in and found him on the couch with her daughter just after midnight, the filing says. After the mother ordered him to leave, Greenhouse drove off in the patrol vehicle he had parked out in front of the girl’s home, prosecutors said.
When investigators from the sheriff’s office questioned him about the incident, Greenhouse said he had been at the girl’s house three times when her mother wasn’t home.
“He claimed they would just talk when he went there, but denied any physical or sexual contact,” prosecutors wrote.
The girl told investigators that Greenhouse didn’t touch her or “talk to her about anything sexual,” but she said the incident made her feel uncomfortable.
However, Greenhouse told investigators that he had sent a text message soliciting a 16-year-old girl to send him a photo of her breasts, according to prosecutors.
Greenhouse said he deleted a string of Facebook and text messages with the girls because he didn’t want his girlfriend to see them, prosecutors said.
In Friday’s filing, prosecutors say “more than one” of Greenhouse’s sexual advances toward Few’s ex-girlfriend happened while he was in uniform and driving his patrol car. Greenhouse made the advances “under the guise of wanting her to work as a confidential informant (but) would quickly transition to wanting some sort of sexual contact,” they wrote.
Video from a police officer’s body camera shows Few had his hands raised inside his vehicle while Stafford and Greenhouse collectively fired 18 shots at it.
Stafford testified at trial that he didn’t know the boy was in the car when he fired and didn’t see his father’s hands in the air. But he said he shot at the car because he feared Few was going to back up and hit Greenhouse with his vehicle.
Two other officers at the scene — a third deputy city marshal and a Marksville police officer — didn’t fire their weapons that night. Prosecutors said the officers weren’t in any danger and shot at the car from a safe distance.