Ohio SWAT deputy Jason Meade has yet to speak publicly about the Dec. 4 incident that culminated tragically with him shooting Casey Christopher Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, dead outside his Columbus, Ohio, home.
But during a midsummer interview in 2018, Meade provided insights into his psyche as a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The comments came to light Tuesday in a story originally reported by The Columbus Dispatch.
Meade, who pastors a small Ohio church, talked about how he aligned his job as a law enforcement officer with his faith. He also shared his thoughts on use of force.
“There are times for righteous release — that’s what I call it — when we have a use of force,” Meade said. “Because every now and then, you have to actually use force. We don’t go around looking for it because we don’t have to. Plenty of people out there will give you that opportunity. So we don’t have to be bullies going looking for it. That’s why I say it’s a righteous release.”
Meade, 42, was assigned to a U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force that was searching for violent suspects near Goodson’s home the afternoon of Dec. 4. As they were wrapping up for the day, Meade claimed he saw Goodson driving by waving a gun and followed him to his home, according to federal marshals.
It remains unclear exactly how or why Meade opened fire on Goodson as the man was entering his home.
Authorities claim Goodson brandished a gun, and they say a weapon was recovered from the scene. It still remains unclear where the weapon was recovered in relation to Goodson’s body.
Meade’s attorney Mark Collins claims the deputy fired after Goodson pointed his gun at the officer.
Goodson’s family members said he was carrying a face mask and Subway sandwiches as he walked across his yard and was unlocking a door to his grandmother’s home when three gunshots rang out.
There is no bodycam footage available from the shooting, which is now being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and Columbus Division of Police’s Critical Incident and Response Team.
Earlier this month, Franklin County Corner Dr. Anahi M. Ortiz ruled Goodson’s death a homicide.
Goodson was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and was not the target of the U.S. Marshals fugitive manhunt.
Collins told the Columbus Dispatch that Meade had yet to be interviewed by investigators by Dec. 24, noting that’s not uncommon in investigations such as this.
Meade has not been charged.
The deputy spoke candidly during an episode of “Connecting with the Community,” an online Franklin County Sheriff’s Office podcast.
Meade and fellow SWAT deputy Marcus Penwell talked about their “lives behind the badge” while delving into topics like family, support from their wives, and dedication to their service as officers.
Meade, a U.S. Marine reserve, talked about being deployed overseas when his first child was born. Meade has a two children, a son and daughter.
He talked about being a deputy with kids and dealing with what he characterized as the everyday harshness of the job.
“Where the challenge has been is, as they grow up, especially in this day and age with social media, everything that we do is immediately on the news,” he said. “It’s tough to beat them to the punch. Especially recently with some situations we’ve been involved in, that I have very open communication with my family. Soon as I get home, I call the kids in and say, ‘Hey, dad was involved in this.'”
Napoleon Bell, the Sheriff’s Office’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion, moderated the discussion. The most enlightening comments came when Bell asked Meade about his faith.
The deputy said he’s the son of a Kentucky preacher who moved his family to southwest Columbus when Meade was a child to pastor Southwest Free Will Baptist Church. John Meade remains the pastor of that church more than 30 years later.
Jason Meade followed in his father’s footsteps in 2014 when he became pastor of Rosedale Free Will Baptist Church, a small church in unincorporated Irwin, Ohio.
“I felt this connection, this love and this overwhelming satisfaction as soon as I took the pulpit,” he said during the 2018 video.
Penwell credited Meade with mentoring him through a difficult time early in his career and later baptizing him. Yet, the deputy’s parish has not escaped backlash that’s befallen their flock leader.
Protesters clashed with members of the Rosedale congregation when they stormed the church during a Dec. 13 service. Jason Meade was not present. Afterward, church leaders defended the deputy.
“We absolutely support him at this time because the investigation needs to be the investigation,” Paul Moore, an associate pastor at the church told Spectrum News 1 moments after the demonstrators were escorted out of the sanctuary. “We as a congregation don’t know anything. We’re trying to allow the investigation to happen instead of, unfortunately, trying Jason Meade in the court of public opinion, which is what’s going on right now.”
Moore told the TV station he’d spoken to Meade in person, but they did not talk much about the fatal shooting because Meade claimed he isn’t authorized to discuss the case.
“I have the right to support my pastor because I know his character,” Moore said. “Jason Meade has been only shown the bad things on the TV or whatever because they’re trying to make him a villain. He is an Iraq War veteran, a proud member of the U.S. Marines.”
Jason Meade was part of a unit that responded to a standoff with an armed suspect in Pike County, Ohio, June 2018. He was among seven officers who fired their weapons.
Two men died during the incident. Jason Meade was placed on a paid administrative leave.
He received an oral reprimand in March 2019 for “violating rules and regulations for deploying his taser on a suspect and didn’t notify his supervision or communications about the use of force.”
Meade spoke about law enforcement and faith in a separate recording from a 2018 conference. He told members of his flock that his work with the U.S. Marshals task force was like “hunting people,” the Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday.
“I learned long ago I got to throw the first punch,” he said. “And I learned long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch.’ People I hit, you wish you could hit, trust me.”
During the sermon, which has since been taken offline by the Ohio Free Will Baptist Association, Jason Meade bragged that he’d never been punched in the face during his career. He likened himself to the biblical David battling Goliath, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
“One of my SWAT guys throws a punch, I gotta throw one in, too,” Meade said. “It’s the truth. We have this little saying, ‘Hey, if you’re going to get in trouble, I’m going to get in trouble, too. You get days off, I get days off, too. We’ll make a vacation out of it.'”
Meade also broke down his beliefs on faith in law enforcement during the “Connecting with the Community” interview, which was posted to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office YouTube channel July 31, 2018.
“Why would you leave your Christianity at the door?” he said. “Because the Bible doesn’t contradict law enforcement. The Bible doesn’t contradict our involvement in the community. It complements it. Everything that I do on a daily basis is complemented by the word of God, and my service to people.”
Jason Meade spoke passionately about his religious devotion and his service as a deputy.
“I want to be able to help somebody every single day I come to work. If that means by arresting somebody here, I’m helping all these here, then that’s what I do,” he went on to say. “Regardless of what we have to do, we’re helping the overall community. We’re still serving.
“I have a genuine concern for humanity, I have a genuine concern for our safety,” he said. “And all that is backed, complimented and corroborated by the Holy Bible. So I don’t have any conflict with it at all.”