Federal authorities in Ohio on Tuesday joined the investigation into the death of a Black man in Columbus last week, who was allegedly fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy while entering his grandmother’s home.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio — in coordination with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the Cincinnati Division of the FBI and the Columbus Division of Police — will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dec. 4 shooting of Casey Goodson, U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers announced Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors will “take appropriate action if the evidence indicates any federal civil rights laws were violated,” DeVillers said. His office declined to comment further on the ongoing investigation.
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Relatives have said that Goodson, 23, was killed in the doorway of his grandmother’s house in Columbus as he walked through the front door. His mother, Tamala Payne, demanded answers Wednesday, explaining that she wants the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy involved to be jailed and that she’ll never be able to hold her son again, except “at his damn funeral.”
“I want answers. I deserve answers. I demand answers at this point,” Payne told The Associated Press.
This undated photo provided by family attorney Sean Walton shows Casey Goodson. The fatal shooting of 23-year-old Goodson by an Ohio sheriff’s deputy on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, is now under investigation by the state’s criminal investigation bureau. (Family Photo/Courtesy of Attorney Sean Walton via AP)
The deputy who allegedly shot Goodson was Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office assigned to a U.S. Marshals Office fugitive task force. The task force had just finished an unsuccessful search for a fugitive Friday afternoon when Goodson, who was not the suspect, drove by and waved a gun at Meade, according to U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin.
One witness heard Meade command Goodson to drop his gun, and when he didn’t, the deputy shot him, Tobin said. Goodson was taken to a hospital where he died.
Tobin said the deputy confronted Goodson outside his vehicle in front of the home, but relatives said the 23-year-old was shot after he unlocked and opened the front door.
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“My grandson just got shot in the back when he came in the house,” Goodson’s grandmother told a dispatcher Friday, according to 911 recordings obtained by the AP. “I don’t know if he’s OK.”
Payne said Goodson had gone to the dentist that morning, and then returned with sandwiches for himself, his 5-year-old brother and his grandmother.
“My 5-year-old called me screaming, ‘Mommy, mommy, Casey just got shot. The police just shot Casey, he’s lying on the floor, mommy, he’s dead, please hurry up, come get me, come get me, I’m scared,’” Payne said.
Goodson had a concealed weapon permit and had hoped to become a firearms instructor, his mother and her attorney, Sean Walton, said Wednesday. Police have said that a gun was recovered from the scene but have not provided further details.
Preliminary autopsy results showed Goodson died from multiple gunshot wounds in his torso, the Franklin County coroner said Wednesday. Final results aren’t expected for at least three months.
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Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz listed the cause of death as a homicide, a medical determination used in cases where someone has died at someone else’s hand, but it is not a legal finding and doesn’t imply criminal intent.
Police have only said that the deputy “shot” Goodson without detailing how many shots were fired.
Two callers to 911 reported hearing multiple gunshots that day, according to copies of those calls released Wednesday afternoon. One caller is heard telling dispatchers that there were “four shots fired from what sounded like an automatic weapon.”
The preliminary autopsy report does not resolve conflicting accounts about Goodson’s death, said Chandra Brown, an attorney representing Goodson’s family along with Walton.
“It is concerning that they’ve had the body for this long and they still cannot confirm the entrance or exit wounds of the gunshots,” Brown said Wednesday. “It seems intentionally vague and we’re looking forward to getting the official autopsy report when that is released.”
Federal authorities have joined the investigation into the shooting already being conducted by the Columbus Police. The case was initially given to city police because the sheriff’s office does not oversee investigations of its own deputies in fatal shootings.
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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost declined a request made by Columbus Police to take over the investigation, citing that the police department waited three days to ask for the state to take the case and after the crime scene had been dismantled.
Visible evidence of the events is lacking because the sheriff’s office does not provide deputies with body cameras, and the deputy’s SWAT vehicle did not have a dash-mounted camera.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.