Jefferson Parish, LA — A family has received the body camera footage as part of their lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office which they say shows a Jefferson Parish deputy shoot their 14-year-old son in the back. The boy, Tre'mall McGee, was complying with officers, unarmed, and completely defenseless when he was shot in the back, according to the lawsuit.
“He was literally laid out on the ground with his nose in the dirt,” attorney Christopher Murell, who represents the family said. “Thank goodness it wasn’t more than one shot because Tre’mall would be dead right now.”
According to police, they were pursuing McGee who was a passenger in a car driven by another juvenile. They were accused of driving a stolen car. However, according to the lawsuit, McGee and the driver — who is also a plaintiff in the case — did not know the car was stolen.
The incident unfolded on March 20, 2020 as the two teens stopped the car and then fled on foot. The body camera footage was only just made available to the attorney and the families involved and reportedly shows the officer threatening to shoot and then shoot McGee as he lie facedown on the ground.
The footage which has not yet been released publicly, is from a a Westwego officer's body camera who was assisting the sheriff’s office. Murell says there is no doubt the video shows McGee was completely defenseless and complying when he was shot.
“Tre’mall’s mom, when she saw her son shot, went up and hugged the television because she finally saw the truth of what happened,” Murell said.
In an interview with 4WWL, Tiffany McGee, Tre'mall's mother, called for the officers involved to be held accountable.
“Take responsibility on what you did. Look me in my eyes and just give me a good reason on why. You were that scared, you were that much of a coward, of someone laying on the ground unarmed,” McGee said.
“Our clients are not concerned about money. What they care about is justice,” Murell said.
According to the lawsuit, the body camera shows officers use excessive force on the other teen as well. The officers are accused of kicking the other teen in the face and failing to mention both the shooting and the use of force in their initial reports.
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The original report only mentions a pursuit of a stolen car and the search for the teens seen riding in it. No shooting or use of force is mentioned in it at all.
It wasn't until months later that a supplemental report was released during a press conference which detailed the shootings. Originally, police were so tight lipped about the shooting that when Tiffany arrived at the hospital to see her son, she thought he'd been a victim of street violence.
"No one said anything," McGee said. "No one spoke up to say an officer shot my child."
"To deny the existence or not confirm a deputy shot someone in an arrest is gaslighting, pure and simple," said Hector Linares, a longtime juvenile public defense attorney now at Loyola University College of Law. "If the facts were favorable to them, they'd be shouting it."
According to 4WWL, Sheriff Joe Lopinto told reporters he could not comment on the matter due to the pending litigation.
“People are looking for answers. They’re always looking for answers, but we have a process that is in place,” Lopinto said at the time.
However, the lawsuit is now doing the identifying that the sheriff's office is refusing to do and McGee's family hopes it will lead to justice for their son.
Shockingly enough, this was the second officer-involved shooting of a child in the same department in less than a month. In April, the town of Metairie, Louisiana was shocked when hearing about a deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office shooting a 14-year-old boy in the head. In the original story, we were told that deputy William Daniel Short confronted a group of children in his yard and defended himself. However, as more details emerged, we learned that the child never attacked the deputy and he shot the boy after allegedly mistaking the child's cellphone screen for a muzzle flash.
Just like in the case of McGee, officials have not released any details in the case and the deputy who shot the child remains on duty.