Nobody has your back like Mama does. And it took one particularly insistent mother—and the surveillance video she pushed police to review—to stop her sons from being jailed on false robbery charges after they were set up by a white man whom cops chose to believe over them.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Patrick John Owens was the one who lied to police, telling them that the two brothers, Christopher and Jerry Tate, had robbed him at gunpoint last summer.
It is instead Owens who was finally charged on Wednesday as the culprit in the armed robbery.
“At least the truth is out,” Jerry Tate told the news site.
Before, it had looked grim for the brothers, who believe that their story would not have been taken seriously if not for their mother, who pushed for police to look over surveillance footage.
“My mother kept telling them that there was video all through that area,” Jerry Tate, 23, recalled.
It was thanks to that video that a case was built against Owens, 29. Owens has since been charged with attempted robbery, armed criminal action, second-degree assault and making a false report—three felonies and a misdemeanor, respectively.
The brothers are glad that their innocence has been proved and that the real culprit is facing charges, but they are still upset that it took officers six months to charge him. And to add insult to injury, he had not even been taken into custody. The Tate brothers believe that race—the fact that Owens is white, while they are black—had something to do with their treatment.
“I believe [police] listened to him because he was white,” Christopher Tate said, recalling that officers told him that it was Owens who had made the first call for help.
Owens told officers that he was parked in his car on Aug. 26, 2017, at around 3:15 a.m. when the two men approached him and started a fight. He said they punched and kicked him, prompting him to get his gun and fire at his attackers, who ran off. At some point, he said, he lost his gun.
Officers who were called to the scene saw the brothers running. One of them, they said, was seen hiding a gun—which turned out to be Owens’—in a flowerpot before stopping to talk to police, while the other had gunshot wounds and was taken to the hospital to be treated.
Surveillance footage shows the true story of what happened. The brothers were seen getting out of a pickup truck when Owens came up and asked for a ride. The alleged crook then pulled a gun on the duo and demanded, “Give me your wallet!”
The brothers fought with Owens, who fired. A bullet hit Christopher Tate in his hand before ricocheting into his face.
“I was on top of him when he shot me,” Christopher Tate said. “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 shot was fired, all three men could be seen fleeing the scene. The Tates tried to tell cops their side of the story (aka the truth), but according to Jerry Tate, “They didn’t listen to us at all.”
Jerry was taken to jail, while Christopher was treated at a hospital. Jerry was later released without charges as police investigated. Owens was also arrested at the time but then released pending charges.
Those charges were finally filed on Wednesday. His bail was set at $250,000.
“It is now clear that [the victims] were telling the truth and that the defendant was lying to officers about what happened,” the detective who investigated the case said, according to court documents.
To top the brothers’ ordeal off? According to Jerry, even after police reviewed the tape, he still got a call from prosecutors asking if he wanted to pursue charges against Owens ... you know, the same guy who attacked him and shot his brother.
“Why wouldn’t we want them to prosecute him?” he recalled in disbelief.
As for Christopher, immediately after the attempted robbery, he can remember the suspicion that he was treated with, even by his boss.
“He asked me, ‘Why did the paper say you robbed someone and that’s how you got shot?’” he recalled. “He said, ‘If it wasn’t true, the paper wouldn’t have said it.’”