Tre’mall McGee, a 14-year-old black boy was shot by a Louisiana deputy as he lay on the ground submitting to officers, but the incident went unreported for more than three months, but for a question asked Sheriff Joe Lopinto during a news conference.
McGee was driving in a stolen car with friends in the New Orleans suburb of Westwego, Louisiana when he was shot by the deputy. He says he didn’t know the vehicle was stolen.
When the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputies pulled over the car McGee was riding in with friends in Westwego on March 20 after identifying it as a stolen vehicle, the teens exited the car and bolted on foot.
Caught up by several deputies, McGee stopped and surrendered, complying with orders to lie on the floor. But as he was on the floor and unarmed, one of the deputies fired a shot that struck him in the shoulder.
Since the news conference that exposed an attempt by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office to hide the incident, Sheriff Lopinto offered little more, claiming the state’s child privacy laws prevent his office from commenting on cases involving juveniles, according to NBC News.
An initial report by the Sheriff’s office on the incident described in detail a pursuit of a car stolen days before and the search for the teens riding in it, but conveniently made no mention of a deputy-involved shooting, or that anyone was taken to the hospital, the outlet reported.
Tiffany, McGee’s mother said she received a call one Friday night in March informing her that her 14-year-old son had been shot and was at the hospital. When she arrived at the hospital a detective was there who told her she couldn’t see her son that night. That was all, no further details.
She told NBC News that she left the hospital with the thoughts that her son had been a victim of street violence, only for her to find out later that night, by accident, her son was shot with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“No one said anything,” McGee said. “No one spoke up to say an officer shot my child.”
Sheriffs in Louisiana and across much of the South wield extraordinary power that ranges from enforcing the law on the streets, running the jails, imposing fines and collecting taxes
The failure of the Sheriff’s office to report the shooting of McGee by the deputy is seen as evidence of the office’s lack of transparency, especially when it comes to the use of force against Black residents.
“I thought we had honesty,” said Gaylor Spiller, the head of the parish’s NAACP chapter. “This 14-year-old boy that they kept hidden, it’s very telling.”
“To deny the existence or not confirm a deputy shot someone in an arrest is gaslighting, pure and simple,” Hector Linares, a longtime juvenile public defense attorney now at Loyola University College of Law told NBC News. “If the facts were favorable to them, they’d be shouting it.”
The wound McGee suffered as a result of the shooting cut through his shoulder blade, armpit, and biceps. He was charged in May for “resisting by flight”.