U.S. Attorney: Charges Yet To Be Determined In Casey Goodson Jr. Investigation

Dec 16, 2020

David DeVillers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, says the federal investigation into Casey Goodson Jr.’s death has yet to determine if any charges will be pressed against the white Franklin County sheriff's deputy who shot him.

In a statement issued Wednesday, DeVillers said he met with Goodson's family last week, but his office "must balance the public's interest in the investigation with a potential defendant's right to a fair trial."

DeVillers added that he's been in contact about the case with both outgoing Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien and incoming Prosecutor Gary Tyack.

"We are in agreement that the facts and the law could lead to federal charges, to state charges, or to no charges at all," DeVillers wrote. "This is an ongoing investigation and no determination of whether any charges – federal or state – are warranted has been made."

DeVillers is heading a federal team conducting a "joint criminal civil rights investigation" into the death of Goodson, who is Black. Other parties involved in the investigation include the FBI, the Columbus Division of Police, the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, and personnel from the U.S. Inspector General. 

“I got a call late last Tuesday night from Chief Quinlan kind of explaining the situation," DeVillers said, referring to Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan. "Then he briefed me on the facts as they knew them at that time. I felt based on that it warranted a federal investigation, and I got ahold of Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman with the FBI.”

Speaking on WOSU's All Sides With Ann Fisher on Wednesday, DeVillers would not comment on the case directly, saying it's still an open investigation. However, he said federal investigators are asked to help out in such cases for various reasons, citing the Civil Rights movement and deep mistrust in the government in the Deep South during the 1960s.

DeVillers said the U.S. is experiencing such pockets of distrust today.

“I think clearly this year, rightfully or wrongfully, there is a distrust in particular areas of the country, and then kind of generally overall, the idea of having a number of individuals, resources, news media look at these cases,” DeVillers said.

DeVillers said Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz is discussing her unfolding review of how Goodson died with his team, and she will release a preliminary autopsy report to the public when she’s absolutely certain of the cause.

Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade fatally shot Goodson on December 4, and Ortiz said last week that he likely died from multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. Goodson's family claimed Goodson was shot in the back, but Ortiz has yet to determine the directionality of the bullets.

Police say they recovered a gun from Goodson's body after he died, but Goodson's family disputes that account as well. Family members who were home at the time say Goodson was shot after opening a side door, and they didn't see a weapon on his body or near him on the kitchen floor.

“There’s nothing illegal about anyone possessing a firearm out in the open at all. And you can actually conceal a weapon if you have a carry conceal permit,” DeVillers said. “Waving a gun at an officer or threatening someone with it, that would be a menacing charge in the state of Ohio.”

"We are in agreement that the facts and the law could lead to federal charges, to state charges, or to no charges at all," DeVillers wrote. "This is an ongoing investigation and no determination of whether any charges – federal or state – are warranted has been made."