The statistics about police shootings in the United States are horrifying: Despite a pandemic, when stay-at-home orders affected many cities and towns across the country, police shootings are on track with previous years. As of July 17, more than 1,000 people have been the victims of police shootings.
Among them should be 14-year-old Tre’mall McGee, though for months, he may not have been counted in that number. The Louisiana teen was shot by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy in March, but the police never recorded that simple and important fact, reports NBC News. To this day, Tre’mall and his mother do not know the name of the man who shot him, who the other officers involved were, and why no one told her it was a cop who shot him.
Tiffany McGee tells NBC News she received a phone call on March 20, a Friday night, telling her that her son had been shot. She was met by a doctor, who assured her the teenage boy was alive, and a detective, who told her she couldn’t see her son that night. She assumed he was the victim of street violence. She only found out later, “by accident,” writes NBC News, that Tre’Mall had been shot by a police officer.
Tre’Mall told NBC News he was hanging out with a group of older friends who picked him up in a black Nissan Maxima. The car had apparently been stolen several days before, which the teen was not aware of. It’s not clear whether his friends knew. As they were driving, a police car came upon them, flashing its lights; the driver sped off, sparking a chase. The driver suddenly hit the brakes, and the car’s occupants fled.
Tre’Mall was attempting to hide under a shed when he was discovered by police officers. As he was attempting to comply with officers’ instructions to put his hands on his head, he was shot in his left arm.
Tre’Mall’s mother only found out an officer had shot him when she traced his phone back to the police department. There, she and the parent of another teen who had been in the car were told by another deputy what had happened.
The pandemic slowed down McGee’s quest for answers. Two months after her son’s shooting, she returned to the sheriff’s office, only to be told by an officer that there were no officer-involved shootings. After a second visit demanding answers, she was told that the police were charging her son with “resisting by flight.”
According to NBC, the initial police report of Tre’Mall’s arrest makes no mention of a shooting or that a person was taken to the hospital. It does detail the car chase and the search for the teens who were riding in it.
Now, she and local activists, including the local chapter of the NAACP are calling for transparency and accountability in her son’s shooting.
“I thought we had honesty,” said Gaylor Spiller, who leads the Jefferson Parish NAACP. “This 14-year-old boy that they kept hidden, it’s very telling.”
Tre’Mall, whose scars from the shooting still throb from the heat of Louisiana summer, says he has his own questions for the cop who shot him.
“Why’d you shoot me, sir?” said the teen. “What’s the point?”