Authorities held a 16-year-old Columbus, Ohio girl responsible for the death of her boyfriend even though an undercover cop shot and killed him in a police sting operation.
Columbus police arrested Masonique Saunders on Dec. 13 on charges of aggravated robbery and murder in the killing of 16-year-old Julius Ervin Tate Jr. because of her role in an alleged robbery, WCMH-TV reported.
The fatal shooting stemmed from an undercover team responding to an ad on a social media sale site, according to the police. Tate arrived at the meeting place on Dec. 7 and allegedly pointed a gun at a plainclothes officer. A second SWAT officer shot and killed Tate. However, Tate’s family disputes the police claim that the teenager had a gun.
The police accused Tate of committing at least two previous armed robberies.
Saunders was with Tate at the scene. Under Ohio’s Revised Code 2903.02, she can be charged with murder as an accomplice during the commission of a robbery.
Danielle Williams, Saunders’ mother, told WBNS-10TV that it’s unfair that the police charged her daughter with murder.
“I don’t think that’s right. 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,” Williams added.
Williams believes authorities are going after her daughter because her version of exactly what happened contradicts the police report and because she’s willing to testify against the officers. Saunders insisted that Tate was unarmed, even though investigators said they found a weapon at the scene.
Meanwhile, Tate’s family considers filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
“I have a sworn affidavit from an eyewitness that says that this was done totally different than what has been put on the news. That he was basically shot in cold blood,” said Byron Potts, the attorney who represents Tate’s family.
An eyewitness claims the police planted the gun, Potts said at a press conference.
Saunders has a criminal history that includes assault, theft and aggravated riot, her mother acknowledged. But the teenager was trying to turn her life around by working hard at school in pursuit of her dream of becoming a lawyer or doctor.
“And she restored her membership back with the church again and I was so happy to see that and without my daughter, I don’t know what to do. I just want answers and I want her to be free,” Williams told WBNS-10TV.