Police Charge 16-year-old with Murder of Boyfriend they Killed During SWAT Sting
After shooting and killing her teenage boyfriend during a botched undercover sting operation, a 16-year-old girl has been charged with murder.
Columbus police shot and killed Julius Tate Jr. on Deember 7 during an undercover sting operation that began after officers contacted him on social media, posing as an interested customer.
Undercover agents then arranged a meeting to buy an item in exchange for cash in an effort to stop a string of robberies reported in the city, according to Mirror.
During the operation, SWAT team officers backed up the undercover officer for the meeting they arranged with Tate.
During the exchange, police allege Tate brandished a gun and robbed the undercover officer.
And that prompted SWAT officer Eric Richard to shoot Tate, killing him a few minutes after the gun was drawn.
Tate was then transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No officers were injured during the ordeal.
And a weapon police say was used by Tate was recovered at the scene.
Witnesses at the scene tell a different story and Tate's family is currently considering filing a lawsuit against police for his death.
"I have a sworn affidavit from an eyewitness that says that this was done totally different than what has been put on the news," Tate family attorney Byron Potts said.
"That he was basically shot in cold blood."
According to Potts, witnesses say Tate never pulled a gun on the undercover officer and only found the gun after searching his home.
"They shot him on the street, then came back to the house and got a gun from the house."
"He did not have a gun on him at the time this happen," Potts explained.
Now, officers with the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team have arrested Tate's girlfriend, 16-year-old Masonique Saunders, charging her with aggravated robbery and murder because she "played a role" in the string of robberies and therefore is responsible for Tate's death.
Saunders was arrested outside of Pott's office.
"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.
Just two days before Tate was shot and killed, Columbus police shot 18-year-old Kyle Collier.
Police used the same story for shooting Collier, saying he drew a gun on an undercover officer on December 5 during an undercover operation in a parking lot.
Columbus police say they've carried out at least 10-SWAT sting operations so far this year in an effort curb robberies involving online buy/sell/trade items where civilians are tricked into meeting for an item then held at gunpoint, threatened or roughed up by assailants.