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After Columbus Police Killed Teen, Officers Arrest Other Teen For His Murder

Raymond Wambsgans

On Thursday, Columbus Police arrested another teenager connected to the death of 16-year-old shot Julius Ervin Tate Jr.

Tate was shot and killed by an officer during a robbery sting on Friday, Dec. 7. 

Masonique Saunders, 16, was arrested December 13 and charged with aggravated robbery and murder.

Columbus Police spokeswoman Denise Alex-Bouzounis says Saunders played a role in the robberies. According to Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman, Ohio's murder provision allows for Saunders to be charged with murder even if she did not actually kill Tate. It's called "felony murder."

“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,” Berman says.

Berman says that can apply to Tate's death, which resulted from a sting operation during which Tate attempted to rob an undercover Columbus Police officer at gunpoint. Another officer then fatally shot Tate.

“In a situation where say there's two people involved in a robbery, they go in to rob and then police shoot somebody, and police are actually the ones who did the direct killing, we still say the felons were approximately causing that death and should be held responsible under this felony murder doctrine,” Berman says.

Alex-Bouzounis says police are seeking to potentially charge Saunders as an adult.

Saunders was arrested outside the office of Attorney Byron Potts, who is legally representing the Tate family in potentially filing a lawsuit against police for wrongful death.

Columbus Police have done 10 undercover stings as part of a crackdown on armed robberies. In the two most recent operations, police have shot suspects - including Tate.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.