Family Of Casey Goodson Jr. Calls For Murder Charges Against Sheriff’s Deputy

Dec 10, 2020

Family members are calling for a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy to be arrested and charged with murder over the killing of Casey Goodson Jr.

“He was just a Black man coming home from a dentist’s appointment,” said Tamala Payne, Goodson’s mother, at a Thursday press conference. "He didn’t do anything. And he was killed and murdered, cold-bloodedly, in a violent manner.”

Federal and local authorities are each conducting investigations into last Friday’s fatal shooting of Goodson by Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade, but family members say the case has been mishandled from the start.

Laywers representing Goodson's family says that law enforcement has treated Goodson, who is Black, as a suspect, while treating Meade, who is white, as the victim.

“Casey is not a suspect in any way shape or form,” said lawyer Sean Walton. “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 pointed his gun at Goodson’s uncle, holding his 3-year-old daughter, and told him to “get out of this house before I shoot you too.” Payne added that she was called a “bitch” by a deputy at the scene, and that officers refused to provide basic information about her son's condition after the shooting.

Franklin County Sheriff 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 lawyer for Meade, Mark Collins, put out a statement Thursday saying that authorities have the deputy's full cooperation in their investigation. 

"Last Friday, a mother lost a son, and siblings lost a brother based on the actions of our client while on duty," Collins said. "We, too, share in the frustration and heartbreak with the family’s loss, and as a parent, I cannot fathom losing a child. Our hearts go out to the family."

Details Under Dispute

Authorities say Meade was conducting a search as part of a U.S. Marshal Service Fugitive Task Force when officers encountered Goodson, who was neither the suspect they were 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."

Members of Goodson’s family alleged that he was shot in the back while entering his home, carrying a bag of sandwiches for his grandmother and brother.

According Collins, Goodson pointed a weapon at the deputy.

"At no time did Deputy Meade mistake a sandwich for a gun," Collins said. "Mr. Goodson pointed his gun at Deputy Meade. There has been confirmation that our client gave verbal commands for Mr. Goodson to drop the gun."

The statement marks the first public comment from Meade's perspective, who Goodson's family criticized called a "coward" for refusing to speak about the shooting.

A preliminary autopsy report released Wednesday by the Franklin County Coroner found Goodson died from multiple gunshots to the torso, and ruled his death a homicide. However, the preliminary autopsy does not indicate the directionality or number of the bullet wounds. Ortiz says a full autopsy will be released in 12-14 weeks, and declined to comment further on the report.

Goodson’s family says they plan to commission an independent autopsy, as well.

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.

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 Goodson eagerly educated his family about gun safety and laws.

“As Black people in this country, our skin cannot be weaponized,” 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.”

Multiple Investigations

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 Prosecutor. A local grand jury will make the decision about whether to charge Meade in the killing – a standard process for local police-involved shootings.

Sarah Gelsomino of the Cleveland law firm Friedman & Gilbert, which is also representing Goodson's family, said they’re hopeful about the Justice Department probe but consider the local investigation to already be tarnished.

“We remain extremely concerned that because of the way this investigation was mishandled from the moment of the shooting, that the entire investigation is forever tainted," Gelsomino said at the press conference. "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. Because from the start, we know that it was in fact biased.”

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Columbus Police Police Chief Tom Quinlan defended their investigation and responded to the Goodson family's criticisms.

"The difficult reality is, very often in police work, information and answers are necessarily, unavoidably slow to come," Quinlan wrote. "That is not in the interest of secrecy – it is in the interest of justice."

Quinlan said the department will continue to share new details about the case, as long as they don't "jeopardize" the investigation or the possibility for a "just outcome tomorrow."

"You have our strongest assurance that this will be an independent, meticulous, unbiased investigation with a singular focus: getting to the truth of what happened to Casey Goodson and why," Quinlan writes.

Protests over Goodson's killing are planned for the Ohio Statehouse at noon on Saturday, Dec. 12.

“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.”