Tre’mall McGee, a 14-year old Black boy, was shot on March 20 earlier this year, after riding in a stolen car with friends in the New Orleans suburb of Westwego, Louisiana. McGee, who says he was unaware that the vehicle had been stolen, was shot in the left shoulder as he lay on the ground surrendering to deputies. The incident was not reported by the sheriff’s office until more than three months had passed when Sheriff Joe Lopinto was asked about it at a news conference.
When Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputies pulled over the car McGee was riding in after identifying it as a stolen vehicle, McGee and his friends exited the car and fled on foot.
According to an account pieced together by NBC News, deputies chased McGee down and found him attempting to crawl under a shed. The prone boy was in the process of complying with orders to surrender when one of the deputies fired a bullet that struck McGee in his left shoulder. He was unarmed.
Only when local outlets shed light on the incident in late June, after George Floyd’s death sparked outrage around the world, did officials disclose the details of the shooting.
McGee’s mother Tiffany said she received a phone call the day her son was shot. When she arrived at the hospital, no one told her Tre’mall had been shot by a deputy.
“No one said anything. No one spoke up to say an officer shot my child,” McGee said.
While officials reported that deputies had pursued a stolen vehicle, they hid the fact that an officer-involved shooting occurred and failed to mention that a minor was taken to the hospital for treatment as a result of the shooting.
Tiffany McGee still does not know the name of the man who shot her son, and the identities of the other deputies involved have been concealed as well.
On the day of the shooting, it was only after Tiffany tracked her son’s phone and found out it was at the Westwego Police Department that she learned her son had been shot by a deputy. One of the deputies at the department broke the news to her. After asking Tre’mall who shot him, he admitted it was a deputy. Tiffany described feeling “helpless,” after learning her son was shot by law enforcement .
The wound Tre’mall suffered as a result of the shooting cut through his shoulder blade, armpit, and biceps. Although he feared he would lose his arm, he has now recovered, although fragments of the bullet remain in his body. Tre’mall, who has no criminal record, went uncharged for two months, but that changed in May. A “resisting by flight” charge was lodged against him some two weeks after his mother persistence got the sheriff’s office to acknowledge that a deputy had shot her son.
The sheriff’s office maintains that “there’s nothing that was hidden” and says the incident is under investigation.