During a sting operation in Columbus, Ohio, a 16-year-old boy was gunned down on the street. Police said the boy had wielded a gun at the time of the killing; however, his girlfriend said he was unarmed.
Now, she’s being charged with his murder.
On Dec. 7, undercover police set up a sting operation in connection with a series of armed robberies. Police set up a meeting on social media to buy something from Julius Tate Jr. on the day he was shot.
Police say Tate drew a gun on an officer during the meeting.
“The suspect approached the officer, produced a weapon, robbed the officer,” Columbus police spokesperson Sgt. Chantay Boxill told WCMH-TV. “At that time the cover officer fired at the suspect.”
However, attorney Byron L. Potts, who is representing Tate’s family, says a sworn affidavit from an eyewitness directly contrasts the SWAT officers story.
Potts says the eyewitness claims that police brought Tate, who was allegedly unarmed at the time, to the corner outside of his house. The officers then pulled the trigger, and then went back into the house to retrieve a gun, said the witness.
Days after Tate was pronounced dead, his girlfriend, Masonique Saunders, was charged in connection with his killing.
According to police, Saunders “played a role” in the robberies, which ultimately led to Tate’s death.
“Under what historically has been called ‘felony murder,’ which means that you’re still responsible for a murder if you cause the death of another as an approximate result of committing certain kinds of serious offenses,” police spokesperson Denise Alex-Bouzounis told WOSU.
Saunders’ mother believes police charged the 16-year-old with aggravated robbery and murder because she was planning to testify against the Columbus Police Department.
"I don't think that's right," Danielle Williams told 10TV. "They shouldn't be able to do that unless they actually physically murdered them. Unless they actually pulled the trigger and shot him. But, she didn't."