A small group of activists protested at Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s office Monday, demanding the release of Masonique Saunders.
Saunders was 16 when she was arrested in December for aggravated robbery and felony murder of Julius Ervin Tate Jr. A Columbus Police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Tate during a robbery sting Dec. 7, 2018, after Tate allegedly tried to rob another undercover officer at gunpoint.
At the time, Columbus Police spokeswoman Denise Alex-Bouzounis said Saunders was involved in the robbery, which led to Tate’s death, and can therefore be charged for his murder. The charge is considered “felony murder” in Ohio.
"We recognize this is a gross injustice against her," says Dkeama Alexis. "Clearly it's the continuously violent police force that stole Julius' life from him, not Masonique Saunders."
Alexis was one of about 20 protestors who chanted outside of Ron O'Brien's office before being removed from the building. Protesters want all charges dropped against Saunders.
"We’re here to demand that she be freed and that there’s also an independent investigation into the murder of Julius Tate Jr.," Alexis said.
Franklin County Prosecutor's Office says it is prepared to proceed with charges against Saunders, with a hearing scheduled for May. Columbus Police are seeking to charge Saunders as an adult.
Columbus Police last year did several undercover stings as part of a crackdown on armed robberies. At least two stings resulted in police shooting suspects.