Casey Goodson Jr.'s Family Calls For Murder Charges Against Sheriff's Deputy
Family members are calling for a Franklin County, Ohio, sheriff's deputy to be removed from duty, arrested and charged with murder for the killing of Casey Goodson Jr.
Federal and local authorities are investigating last Friday's fatal shooting of Goodson by Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the force.
"He was just a Black man coming home from a dentist's appointment," Tamala Payne, Goodson's mother said at a Thursday news conference with attorneys. "He didn't do anything. And he was killed and murdered, cold-bloodedly, in a violent manner."
From the outset, Goodson's family says that local law enforcement has mishandled the investigation, treating Goodson, who is Black, as a suspect, and Meade, who is white, as the victim.
"Casey is not a suspect in any way shape or form," said Sean Walton, a lawyer for the family. "Casey is someone who was killed on his kitchen floor simply because he is a Black man and his skin was weaponized."
Walton said that Meade also pointed his gun at Goodson's uncle, who was holding his 3-year-old daughter, and told him to "get out of this house before I shoot you, too."
Payne said she was called a "b****" by a deputy at the scene, and that officers refused to provide basic information about Goodson's condition after the shooting.
Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin released a statement after the press conference, saying he will order an immediate internal review of whether his officers used inappropriate language.
"I am aware there was a large, multi-agency response to the scene, but if one of my deputies used such language at the scene of any tragedy, it would be unacceptable and unbecoming of a law enforcement officer," Baldwin said. "No grieving family deserves to be insulted."
A law enforcement shooting death in disputed circumstances
Authorities say Meade was conducting a search as part of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force when he encountered Goodson, 23, who was neither the suspect the task force was looking for nor the subject of any investigation.
"During an operation in the Northland area of Columbus, the deputy reported witnessing a man with a gun," Columbus Police said in a statement. "The deputy pursued that man, and there are reports of a verbal exchange. The deputy fired at Mr. Casey Goodson, Jr., resulting in his death."
A preliminary autopsy report released Wednesday by Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz found Goodson died from multiple gunshots to the torso, and ruled his death a homicide.
Members of Goodson's family allege that he was shot in the back while entering his home, carrying a bag of sandwiches for his grandmother and brother. However, the preliminary autopsy does not indicate the directionality or number of the bullet wounds. Ortiz says a full autopsy will be released in 12 to 14 weeks, and declined to comment further on the report.
Goodson's family says they plan to commission an independent autopsy, as well.
On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers announced the U.S. Department of Justice would assess whether any civil rights laws were violated in Goodson's killing, saying he believed "a federal investigation is warranted."
A separate investigation is ongoing from the Columbus Division of Police, which will then turn over evidence to the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney. A local grand jury will make the decision about whether to charge Meade in the killing — a standard process for local police-involved shootings.
Cleveland attorney Sarah Gelsomino, also representing Goodson's family, said "the entire investigation is forever tainted."
"The federal government has a very large hurdle here in order to be able to prove that the investigation into this case can be unbiased and thorough and adequate," Gelsomino said. "Because from the start, we know that it was in fact biased."
Authorities say a gun was recovered from the scene, but family members who were home at the time say they did not see a gun in Goodson's hand or near his body after he was shot. Goodson did possess an up-to-date concealed carry license, and Walton said he had educated his family about gun safety and laws.
"As Black people in this country our skin cannot be weaponized," attorney Walton said. "We have a country where if someone wants to protest at the Statehouse they can carry assault rifles, if their skin is white."
Franklin County sheriff's deputies do not wear body cameras, and there is no available footage of the encounter between Meade and Goodson. Police say no first-hand witnesses have come forward, and Goodson's family members say they did not overhear their conversation.
Protests are planned at the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday.
"I want everything done in peace," said Payne of the protests. "My son was a peaceful man and I want his legacy to continue in peace. I am calling for justice. I want Jason Meade arrested. I want Jason Meade charged."
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