A white man, Patrick John Owens, who claimed two African-American brothers robbed him at gunpoint, lied about the incident and is now behind bars.
Turns out the crime was reversed: Owens actually pulled a gun and tried to rob Christopher and Jerry Tate on a St. Louis street corner.
The Tate brothers are thanking their tenacious mother who forced police to review a surveillance video which proved the Tate brothers’ innocence.
If their mother hadn’t been so persistent, the Tate brothers could be telling their story from a jail cell.
“At least the truth is out,” Jerry Tate told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
We’ve seen this before: Black men accused of a crime they didn’t commit, but often the truth doesn’t always emerge.
In this case, it took six months before police got to the truth. Christopher and Jerry Tate were initially arrested and charged with the armed robbery of Owens.
But it wasn’t until last week, that police actually charged Owens with the crime.
The Tate brothers told the Post-Dispatch that police initially believed Owens’ account and dismissed the Tate’s actual version of the events.
“My mother kept telling them that there was video all through that area,” Jerry Tate, 23, told the Post-Dispatch.
“I believe they listened to him [Owens] because he was white,” he said.
According to the Post-Dispatch, “Owens initially told police he was parked in the 1100 block of Lucas Avenue about 3:15 a.m. Aug. 26 when two men approached and started a fight. He said they punched and kicked him, according to a police summary released at the time.”
Owens told police a shaky story about “he grabbed his gun and fired at the attackers, who ran off, but somehow lost his gun in the encounter.”
Here was the account from the Post-Dispatch:
Officers called to the scene saw two men running on Washington Avenue, police said in the summary released after the shooting. One of them was seen hiding a gun in a flower pot before stopping to talk to police. One had gunshot wounds and was taken to a hospital for treatment. The gun found in the flower pot turned out to belong to Owens, police said.”
The surveillance video, according to the newspaper, showed the Tates getting out of a pickup when Owens approached them and asked for a ride.
Then Owens pulled a gun and said, “Give me your wallet!”
The brothers fought with Owens, who fired his gun and a bullet struck Christopher Tate in the hand and ricocheted into his face, according to the Post-Dispatch.
“I was on top of him when he shot me,” Christopher Tate told the newspaper. “When he fired the gun the bullet hit the bone in my hand. It went through my right jaw. If I had not put my hand out it probably would have blown my entire face off.”
“After the gunfire, Jerry Tate said, all three ran. The Tates tried to tell their story to some police officers on bikes, Jerry Tate said, but “they didn’t listen to us at all.”
And here’s another unfortunate fact: Christopher Tate told the newspaper that he returned to work after his initial arrest and was treated like a criminal, which also included his boss.
“He asked me, ‘Why did the paper say you robbed someone and that’s how you got shot?’” Tate said. “He said ‘If it wasn’t true the paper wouldn’t have said it.’”
Today, the Tates are free men – innocent men – thanks to their mother who relentlessly pursued the truth to exonerate her sons.
What do you think?
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