Operation Help vows to seek justice for Jeremy
Fri, 11/13/2015 - 05:00
By Raymond L. Daye
Before the arrests of two Marksville officers last week, there was one national group preparing to put on the pressure if warranted and needed.
Wendol Lee, president of the Memphis-based Operation Help Civil Rights Group, visited the scene of the shooting last Friday, just hours before State Police announced the arrests of Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr.
Lee invited the newspaper to join him at the corner of Taensas and Martin Luther King. He was obviously a man on a mission -- and a man with a promise to the people of Marksville and Avoyelles Parish.
“We will do our own investigation of this killing,” Lee said. “If that investigation shows that what was done was within the law, we will not be bringing any drama to this city. If it was not within the law, and appropriate action is not taken, Operation Help plans to come back here and stage the biggest rally ever held in Avoyelles Parish. It may take days, or weeks. We will be here until justice is done.”
Taking care not to imply any wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved in the killing of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and the critical wounding of his father, Chris Few, Lee said that Operation Help’s mission is to “get bad cops locked up. We go after crooked politicians and trigger-happy police officers who think they can get away with murder by hiding behind a badge.”
While many hear “civil rights activist” and a particular image and stereotype comes to mind, Lee said his organization “is about trying to protect everybody’s civil rights, regardless of color.”
Losing a bit of his composure as he surveyed the scene, marked in orange by investigators to show the position of four vehicles and orange spots showing where bullet casings were recovered, Lee shook his head and said, “So many shots. They killed a baby boy.”
Reverting to his role as a gatherer of information, Lee knelt beside a pile of shattered safety glass which lined up with where the front passenger side window of the victims’ vehicle would have been.
“This glass does not appear to have tinting,” Lee said. “They should have been able to see the child in the front seat.”
Most of the orange spots were directly in front of where the driver’s side front window would have been.
Lee spent part of Friday and at least the weekend visiting with residents and others who had expressed a desire to talk to him and share information about the case or their concerns about this case or other police-related issues.
“We work well with the Department of Justice,” Lee said. “If we have to, we will get the FBI involved.”
Looking back at the orange-painted scene, he said quietly, “That’s a lot of shots.”
There were 20 orange spots on the ground. Previous information provided by sources indicated 21 shots were fired. Other reports put the number at 17 or 18.
State Police Col. Michael Edmonson said last Thursday that Few had no gun and investigators had found no evidence of an outstanding warrant against him.
Megan Dixon, Few’s fiancée, told reporters after last Thursday’s press conference that she was in a separate car when two city marshal’s vehicles approached from behind Few. He had just picked up Jeremy from a relative’s house. She said he pointed at his son, as if to indicate he did not know what to do because he was in the car.
Few pulled away from the traffic light and the marshal’s vehicles followed, she said.
She said Few was afraid of the city marshals because he had had a personal conflict with one of them, whom she said was at the scene of the incident. She did not name that officer to reporters.
“I want the people of Marksville to know that we will do all we can to see that justice is done in this case,” Lee said. “If this was not done within the law, there will be no peace until there is justice for this child.
“Rest assured, Marksville, we will not let a murderer hide behind a badge.”
Lee asked anyone wishing to talk to him about this case or other law enforcement-related issues in Marksville or Avoyelles to call him at 901-691-5705.