A sheriff’s deputy working for a fugitive task force shot and killed a Black man trying to enter his own home in Columbus, Ohio, last week in a case that is now being investigated by federal authorities.
Casey Goodson, 23, was fatally shot on Friday by a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, identified as deputy Jason Meade. Meade was working for the US Marshal’s fugitive task force looking for violent offenders at the time, but Goodson was not the person being sought by the task force, Columbus Police said.
Goodson had put his keys into his door before he was shot and fell into the kitchen, where his 5-year-old brother and his 72-year-old grandmother saw him lying on the ground with a Subway sandwich, family attorney Sean Walton told CNN.
Goodson, an Ohio concealed carry permit holder, was legally armed at the time of the shooting, according to the Columbus Division of Police. Goodson was not alleged to have committed any crimes, has no criminal background and was not the target of any investigation, Walton told CNN.
During the US Marshal’s task force operation in Columbus, Meade reported seeing a man with a gun and was investigating the situation when there was reportedly a verbal exchange prior to the shooting, the Columbus Division of Police said.
According to police, no other officers witnessed the shooting, no civilian eyewitnesses have been identified and there is no body camera footage of the actual shooting because Franklin County Sheriff’s task force officers aren’t issued body cameras.
CNN reached out to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for comment but has not yet heard back.
Walton called on authorities to provide the family answers and said that the officer involved should be held accountable.
“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,” Walton told CNN.
In a statement, Walton said Goodson was “an amazing young man whose life was tragically taken.”
“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 attorney noted.
Federal and local authorities investigate
Even though the shooting did not involve a Columbus Police officer, the Columbus Police Critical Incident Response Team is the primary agency investigating the shooting because it occurred in Columbus.
That investigation will examine whether Meade was legally justified in shooting Goodson, according to Columbus Police. Once the investigation is complete, the evidence will be turned over to the Franklin County Prosecutor to be presented to a grand jury, police said.
In addition, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and the FBI are launching a federal civil rights investigation.
“This offers the highest level of transparency and a clear path to the truth,” Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said.
Columbus Police had on Monday attempted to turn over the investigation to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the state agency that typically investigates police-involved shootings. But the BCI announced that they would not be able to accept the case because of an unexplained delay in the request.
“We received a referral to take a three-day old officer-involved shooting case. Not knowing all the reasons as to why so much time has passed before the case was referred to BCI, we cannot accept this case,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that the BCI has a memorandum of understanding with Columbus Police that says the state agency should be the first call after a police shooting.
“BCI is the first call because we cannot be the subject matter experts unless we’re on scene from the beginning to document the evidence of what happened from the start,” Yost said in a statement Monday. “Three days later after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witness(es) have all dispersed does not work.”
Columbus Police said 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.” The department added that the Attorney General’s decision to not take the case has not interrupted the investigation.
An autopsy will be performed by the Franklin County Coroner, police said.
Rallies set for later this week
The shooting has left the Black community in Columbus reeling, and rallies calling for justice in Goodson’s case are set for Friday and Saturday in Columbus.
Local civil rights activists say police brutality against Black people in this central Ohio city is nothing new.
Law enforcement in Columbus has long had a strained relationship with the Black community because of its past shootings of young Black men and aggressive policing in Black neighborhoods, said Kiara Yakita, founder of the Black Liberation Movement of Central Ohio.
Among the Black men and teens killed by Columbus police in recent years were Julius Tate, a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by an officer in December 2018 during a sting operation; Kareem Ali Nadir Jones, a 30-year-old who was fatally shot by officers in July 2017; Tyre King, a 13-year-old killed by police in September 2016; and Henry Green, a 23-year-old shot dead by plainclothes officers in June 2016.
Movement for Black Lives leaders said they believe Goodson was “executed.”
“A crisis of this magnitude calls for a massive realignment of power,” said Chelsea Fuller, a Columbus-based spokeswoman for the Movement for Black Lives. “That realignment can and will happen through defunding the police, reducing their bloated budgets, and re-investing those resources in the creation of new systems of public safety that account for all lives, not just some.”
Yakita said Black residents feel exhausted, especially after joining the nation in protesting police brutality and racism all summer.
“We are feeling helplessness, hopelessness and hurt,” Yakita said. “It’s like we did all of that for nothing.”
Morgan Harper, a local community activist, said police in Columbus have a history of treating Black people differently.
“It’s depressing, really,” Harper said. “And I think people were already feeling vulnerable that we can’t feel protected in our own communities. That young Black men and Black women, we face an undo level of risk just living.”
Columbus’ racial tension goes beyond policing. Black residents say the town’s history of redlining, segregation and gentrification of Black neighborhoods has also been a boiling point.
Columbus is the fourth most economically segregated metro area in the country, according to a study the University of Toronto. The city is 59% white and 28% Black.
CNN’s Hollie Silverman, Amir Vera, Peter Nickeas and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.