A 23-year-old Black man was recently shot and killed by an Ohio deputy working on a fugitive task force.
Casey Christopher Goodson Jr., was not the target of the U.S. Marshals bounty hunt, but authorities said he brandished a weapon as they called the shooting justified.
Goodson’s family members, some of whom say they witnessed the shooting, claim he was not carrying a weapon and was unlocking the door to his house when the officer fired on him. Loved ones are now demanding answers in the latest police-involved shooting of a Black man.
“While police claim that Casey drove by, waving a gun, and was confronted by the deputy after exiting his vehicle, that narrative leaves out key details that raise cause for extreme concern,” a statement from the family’s attorneys reads.
The shooting occurred just after noon Friday, Dec. 4, along Estates Place in north Columbus. Goodson was shot outside his family’s home, according to relatives.
The shooter has been identified as Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County, Ohio, sheriff’s office. Meade was a SWAT team deputy who was assigned full time to a U.S. Marshals task force that specializes in apprehending fugitives.
The fugitive task force had just finished an unsuccessful manhunt for “violent suspects” near Goodson’s home. Goodson had no warrants. And he was not the target of any U.S. Marshals operations, according to Peter Tobin, head of the Marshals’ Southern District of Ohio.
The task force was wrapping up for the day when Meade saw Goodson drive by waving a gun, authorites are reporting. Officials investigating the incident said there were reports of a verbal exchange. It remains unclear how it led to Meade opening fire on Goodson.
“He [Goodson] was seen driving down the street waving a gun,” Tobin told reporters during a Dec. 4 news conference. “That’s when the deputy — at some point after that he confronted him, and it went badly.”
Tobin said he believes the shooting was justified. The U.S. Marshals Service recovered a weapon at the scene, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.
Family members contend Goodson was shot three times in the back. The Franklin County coroner will perform the autopsy.
No other officers witnessed the shooting and there is no bodycam footage available as task force officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office aren’t outfitted with the body-worn devices.
Investigators said there were no civilian witnesses to the shooting either. But Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, told WSTX her 5-year-old son saw the entire ordeal unfold and called her at work to let her know “that his brother just got shot by the police.”
Goodson’s family has retained Columbus civil rights attorney Sean Walton of Walton + Brown. The law firm said Goodson’s 72-year-old grandmother and two children near the door also witnessed the shooting.
“As Casey lie on the ground dying, the unopened Subway sandwiches that he brought for himself and his family sat next to him in a pool of blood,” attorneys from the firm said in a statement. “Even hours after his death, the keys that he used to let himself in the house as he was shot and killed hung in the door – a reminder to his family of how close he was to safety.”
The Columbus Police Department is leading the investigation into the shooting, which occurred in the city’s jurisdiction. The department’s Division of Police Critical Incident and Response Team will hand their findings over to a Franklin County prosecutor, who will present the evidence to a grand jury. The grand jury will then determine if the shooting was justified.
Meade had yet to be interviewed by the team of investigators by Monday.
“At this time, Deputy Meade is not on duty and is awaiting interview by the Columbus Division of Police Critical Incident and Response Team, which is investigating the incident,” the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The Columbus police department announced in a media advisory Monday that Police Chief Thomas Quinlan had agreed to turn the investigation over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). Tobin and Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin both supported the plan. But the Ohio Attorney General’s Office nixed the agreement, determining that the Columbus PD needed to retain the investigation because it was too far underway.
“Chief Quinlan’s interest in having BCI involved in the case was based solely on reassuring the public of maximum independence in the investigation of this tragedy,” Columbus Sgt. James Fuqua wrote in a department statement Monday night. “As said in his statement earlier today, (Quinlan) has complete faith in CPD’s Critical Incident Response Teamto investigate this matter fully and fairly. That has not changed.
“Today’s agreement, and the Attorney General’s decision to not take this case, has not in any way interrupted the work to investigate the death of Casey Goodson,” it continued.
A statement from Ohio AG Dave Yost said the state agency rejected the case because Columbus police sought their assistance too late in the process.
“BCI is the first call because we cannot be the subject matter expert unless we’re on the scene from the beginning to document the evidence of what happened from the start,” Yost said. “Three days later after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witnesses have all been dispersed does not work.”
People’s Justice Project, a Columbus activist group, has worked with the family and staged vigils for Goodson on Friday and Saturday. They are planning a protest at the Ohio State House in Columbus at noon Dec. 12.
Aramis Sundiata, the executive director of People’s Justice Project, called the mantra from officers justifying the shooting a “common narrative.” His organization is demanding the release of any body cam footage, police reports, and independent autopsy as well as an independent investigation by prosecutors.
“This is not the first and it won’t be the last case in Franklin County in particular and Ohio in general,” he told Atlanta Black Star. “We had Tamir Rice, we had Cedric Blake, John Crawford. We’ve had all these different cases.”
Family members stressed that Goodson was licensed to carry a concealed firearm. His sister, Kaylee Harper, took to Facebook to blast authorities. She called the narrative that he was holding a weapon when he was shot a lie.
According to Harper, Goodson was returning home from a dental appointment, carrying a Subway sandwich and mask in one hand and his keys in the other. She said her brother walked through the yard, entered a back fence, unlocked a side door and was stepping into the home when he was fatally shot.
“If he was such a threat, why did you wait so long to shoot?!” she wrote. “Did you kill a man walking into his own home? He just wanted to enjoy his Subway after leaving the dentist’s office and now my 23-year-old brother will never be able to live his life, to have a family. Nothing! They took that man’s future from him and changed all of ours. This is just really unbelievable. My outlook on life has completely changed.”
Walton is the same attorney who represented the family of Tyree King, a 13-year-old boy shot and killed by a Columbus police officer in 2016. Officers said King pulled a gun from his waistband, but it later proved to be a BB gun.
Monday would’ve marked King’s 18th birthday.
He demanded a “thorough and transparent investigation” into the deadly force used against Goodson and that Meade be held accountable.
“It is troubling that authorities have already stated that they believe the shooting to be justified, prior to any investigation taking place and before any information has been released to the family,” Walton stated. “At this point, witness testimony and physical evidence raise serious concerns about why Casey was even confronted, let alone why he was shot dead while entering his own home.”
Sundiata said some of the students in PJP knew Goodson, who he described as a “cool kid” that worked at a local Gap store and stayed out of trouble.
His family members remained in mourning and PJP was working to provide them resources, such as social workers and helping raise funeral costs. A GoFundMe page set up for the family had garnered more than $50,000 by Monday morning.
“They’re distraught, they’re going through the grieving process, they’re trying to figure this all out,” Sundiata said.
“Black lives will not matter until we have Black power,” he added. “Until we have the ability to control what happens in our communities. That’s what we stand on to make our communities ungovernable from situations like this without facing retribution from the people.”