Police In Ohio Say Slain Black Man Brandished A Gun; Family Says He Held A Sandwich
Authorities in Ohio have identified a long-time Franklin County Sheriff's deputy as the law enforcement officer who shot and killed a Black man in Columbus last Friday.
Law enforcement said the man was waving a gun. His family said he was carrying a sandwich.
The sheriff's office said the deputy who fired the shots, Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the force, was assigned full-time to the U.S. Marshal's Service Fugitive Task Force at the time of the incident.
The task force had wrapped up an unsuccessful search for "violent suspects," according to police investigators, when the shooting took place.
The man killed, 23-year-old Casey Goodson, was not an object of the search, nor was he wanted by law enforcement prior to the incident, according to police.
Family members said Goodson was shot three times in the back. An autopsy will be conducted by the Franklin County Coroner, according to investigators.
Columbus Police are leading the investigation of the incident, which occurred within its jurisdiction but did not involve police. As of Sunday afternoon, roughly 48 hours after the shooting, Meade had still not been interviewed by investigators.
"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.
Peter Tobin, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said that Goodson was brandishing a weapon, then things took a turn for the worst.
"He was seen driving down the street waving a gun, and that's when the deputy, at some point after that, he confronted him and it went badly," Tobin said at a Friday press conference, NPR member station WOSU reports.
The station adds that authorities provided few details about the encounter or what triggered Meade's use of deadly force. The sheriff's office said deputies do not wear body cameras. Investigators said no other law enforcement officers witnessed the shooting.
"A gun was recovered from Mr. Goodson," according to a statement from Columbus Police. A tweet by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said "the suspect's weapon was recovered at the scene."
Activists and family members dispute details in law enforcement's version of the story and point to it as another example of police resorting to unjustified deadly force against Black Americans.
"They are lying!" Kaylee Harper, who identified herself as Goodson's sister, wrote in a Facebook post.
"My brother literally walked across the yard, walked into the back fence to get to the side door, had his subway [sandwich] and mask in one hand keys in the other, UNLOCKED AND OPENED THE DOOR and stepped in the house before" he was shot, Harper wrote.
In a statement, Walton + Brown, the law firm representing Goodson's family, said the shooting was witnessed by Goodson's 72-year-old grandmother and two toddlers. The firm said Goodson was returning home from a dentist appointment.
"Everything about him was about abiding by the law and in terms of having a gun, he was licensed to do so," Nana Watson, the president of the Columbus Chapter of the NAACP, told The Columbus Dispatch.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents many families who have had loved ones killed by police this year, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Walter Wallace and others, tweeted "this must end."
"This is Casey Goodson, a 23yo Black man from Ohio. On 12/4, an @OHFCSO deputy mistook Casey for a fugitive & fatally shot him 3x in the BACK. He was walking into his own home with a sandwich, NOT a gun. This shoot 1st, ask Qs later mentality MUST END! We demand #JusticeForCasey!!"
Heather Johnson, a friend of the Goodson family, who also spoke with The Columbus Dispatch, said he had no criminal history and described him as a family man.
"Casey was 23 years old, he never had any type of crimes. He was good, he worked at the Gap, he loved his family," Johnson told the paper. "He just enjoyed being a big brother and enjoyed being with his family, he loved them very much."
The shooting comes as the nation is still grappling with long-simmering issues stemming from social inequities, systemic racism and aggressive police tactics used against communities of color. Those matters touched off months of nationwide protests following Floyd's Memorial Day killing by Minneapolis police.
It also comes just weeks before a transition of power at the White House. President-elect Joe Biden made criminal justice reform a central pillar of his campaign.