Father of deceased Selma High School student speaks out

Published 6:44 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

The father of Tremaine Mitchell Jr., who passed away at Selma High School on November 8, is seeking legal counsel in the death of his son. It was just like any other day for Mitchell Jr. according to his father.

“What I was told from somebody, that from 8 8:15 to about 10:30 something like that he was doing fine,” Mitchell said. “He was just playing, being a happy kid. Then around 10 something he came out of the cafeteria holding his chest. That was what was on camera. I didn’t get a chance to see the camera but somebody told me this.”

At that time some other students told staff something was wrong with Mitchell Jr but was ignored according to Mitchell. “To my knowledge, some of the students seen my son that something was wrong with him,” Mitchell said. “They alerted staff and teachers and they did not respond fast enough. Like they were letting them know something was wrong with my son.”

A neighbor of Mitchell notified him that something was wrong with his son.

“I woke up to banging on my door, a couple of text messages, that’s how I found out. One of my neighbor’s daughters goes to the school and she told her mother and the mother came and told me. I immediately got up and just went to the school. But, I didn’t go in the school. I just seen the ambulance.”

When Mitchell approached the ambulance he saw his son.

“They were working on him,” Mitchell said. “He was lifeless and they pulled off and I pulled off behind them and went to the hospital.”

After leaving the hospital in a state of shock Mitchell returned to his apartment.

“I was in my house, in my room just trying to figure stuff out,” Mitchell said. “And I basically felt overwhelmed because I have a sickness and I kinda dozed off. I heard a lot of commotion because my daughters were outside cause a lot of people were showing up to my apartment because of the news of my son.  And I just hear a lot of officers running in my apartment and I’m confused because I am like, ‘What’s going on?’ and they came with their guns out and they came with the dogs and I was scared. I was like what the hell? I was scared for my life. They put me in handcuffs immediately. They took me outside. The lead officer showed me, I guess, a warrant. They took me out of the handcuffs and was like they got to search my apartment. That’s what they did.”

During the search, Mitchell was asked by officers to open a safe in his apartment. “ They had me illegally had me open the safe,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t find what they was looking for. They took other stuff. They were supposed to be looking for drugs and paraphernalia. They only found what was prescribed to me. Like I said I’m a sick person and I take medicine. They didn’t find anything like they wasn’t supposed to find. They found stuff that had nothing to do with my son. They took stuff out of my safe.”

The police came to Mitchell’s apartment because students from the school had tipped off police that he possibly was the one giving drugs to his son. “Basically some students had said, this is what other students told me, they heard another student say that he must have gotten it from his dad,” Mitchell said. “ I guess when they investigated some students, that kept going to the hospital, those students must have said, he must have got it from his dad. So they immediately came and did what they did. They wanted to jump on me at the hospital but they didn’t. They waited till I got home.”

At the time of the incident, according to Mitchell none of his family was contacted by the school about Mitchell Jr. “I’m not going to put a lie out there,” Mitchell said. “I want to clear something up. The school did not have my number on file, the correct number but, they did have my twin sister’s number, they probably had his mother’s number. They had people contact on their list, not just mine.”

Three days after Mitchell’s son passed away he reached out to the school to ask for help with his son’s funeral.

“We asked them (the school) to help provide for the funeral,” Mitchell said. “They basically said no.” The school offered to help in a different way according to Mitchell. “They said they would do something else,” Mitchell said. “ I don’t know what they did because I let my twin sister handle it. I don’t really recall what they did but they didn’t do what we requested.” Mitchell is now seeking legal counsel against the school for wrongful death as well as neglect.

“First of all, I feel like school is supposed to have in a ‘to fights and stuff like that but when situations like that happen, they took their time instead of like automatically taking him to a hospital or try to help him.”

Mitchell said that he is also seeking legal counsel against the police department for harassment.

“Actually, I want to put his name on the record,” Mitchell said.”  I don’t give a (expletive) no more. Whoever he is, I know his last name is Kyzer. I have him on recording saying that I am going to the penitentiary and basically he don’t really care about what happened he just cares about the case he has got against me. All this was done illegally. This whole search warrant thing was illegal. They took stuff out of my apartment. They were supposed to give me receipts back and they gave me no receipts. I feel like I was handled very roughly and mistreated. I couldn’t even grieve right.”

According to Mitchell after the death of his son he is trying make a change in honor of his son.

“I’m trying to push for better like, changes in that school,” Mitchell said. “That way my son would not have to have died in vain.”

Mitchell did acknowledge that at the end of the day his son had made the decision to take the drugs that killed him.

“I don’t want to hold either one of those people (School and police) accountable,” Mitchell said,” At the end of the day my son had his own mind. So I can’t blame the school, the school didn’t give it to him. The school didn’t say come here and take this. The police department didn’t have anything to do with it. I just didn’t like how they handled (expletive) afterwards. I can’t blame them.”

Mitchell said that there was one reason that he does put blame on the school. “The reason why I put blame towards the school and this is the sole purpose of why. How do students end up with such a strong drug inside of a school,” Mitchell said. “I went to school in New York they did not play that. We couldn’t get anything inside that school. If it was it was a rare chance and it was handled properly. This situation like this is just one of the situations like people done brought guns in there, all types of stuff. Some of the teachers done did stuff with some of the students but that’s neither here nor there. The way they have the school right now is not right for kids. It’s not suitable for kids. It’s not safe.”

Selma Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd responded to the accusations from Mr. Mitchell in the form of a written statement. “I am aware of the accusations that have been made, and I am also aware that these words are from a grieving father who has lost his son,” Byrd said. “I continue to extend my sincere condolences, my prayers and support to the Mitchell Family. I understand that many are looking for answers, and we are also anxious for the full investigation to conclude. I wish I could respond to each of the accusations in detail, but because this is an ongoing investigation, I have been advised not to comment. However, I will continue to say what I have stated previously. The accusations are false and based on our internal investigation, our school officials did everything they could to offer assistance during the medical emergency. Trumaine was a scholar that was loved by school officials and students.   Our employees work hard to provide a safe haven for all of our scholars, and we work hard to ensure all of our scholars feel safe and secure. This is our top priority and will continue to be our top priority. We must realize that this is a community, state, and national problem that is plaguing all of us. These items are being brought into communities and then they make their way into schools everywhere. It’s going to take the village and community mindset to help us solve this problem.

‘’It’s going to take parents going back to the traditional mindset of the way we were raised. It’s going to take parents knowing where their children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. And as a school district, we will do more. We will continue to teach our scholars the dangers of drugs and what to do if they encounter these drugs. We are increasing our security checks, and we are learning more from local, state, and national authorities on ways that we can assist in combatting this epidemic. We are committed to doing everything we possibly can. However, I must stress that it’s going to take all of us to address this horrible epidemic that is taking the lives of so many of our precious loved ones.”

During the press conference last Wednesday, Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said that this is still under investigation at this time.