The Columbus Dispatch

Ex-deputy indicted in Goodson death

Meade expected to plead not guilty in shooting

- John Futty

Former Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT deputy Jason Meade was indicted Thursday in the death of 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr., who was shot in the back multiple times outside his home in the Northland neighborho­od nearly one year ago.

The indictment, issued by a Franklin County grand jury, charges Meade, 44, with two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide.

Saturday will mark the one-year anniversar­y of the shooting, which occurred on the 3900 block of Estates Place, where Goodson lived with his grandmothe­r. It happened just after Meade wrapped up work with a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force in an unsuccessf­ul search for a suspect in the area.

Meade, a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, left the sheriff’s office July 2 on disability retirement.

Meade turned himself in Thursday morning on the indictment charges, according to his attorney, Mark Collins, and will make his initial appearance in Franklin County Municipal Court on Friday.

He said Meade will plead not guilty, and they will ask for a reasonable bond to be set.

“The indictment was not a surprise, nor was the timing,” Collins said. “As we proceed through the critical stages of

this case, the evidence will show that Jason Meade acted in accordance with” U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding use-of-deadly force by police.

Very little informatio­n has been released by investigat­ors about the shooting, for which there are no known eyewitness­es and no video. Meade was not wearing a body camera, a piece of equipment that Franklin County deputies did not and still don’t have.

Nearly a year after the fatal shooting, the sheriff’s office said Thursday it is still finalizing policy guidelines for the implementa­tion of body cameras. Once those policy guidelines are in place, the county commission­ers will be able to place a purchase order. There was not immediatel­y a timeline available for the completion of that process.

“I’m overwhelme­d with joy,” Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, said about the indictment during a news conference Thursday morning called by the family’s attorney, Sean Walton. “My emotions are everywhere.”

Walton and Payne were flanked at the event by 15 other family members, all of whom wore shirts bearing images of Goodson.

“While we celebrate this win, we know this isn’t over,” Walton said. “We know the ultimate end game is a conviction for the murder of Casey Goodson.”

The fatal shooting a Black man by a white deputy led hundreds of people to block streets Downtown near the Ohio Statehouse in protests the following weekend. The unrest came just months after a spring and summer of racial-injustice protests locally and nationwide that stemmed from the death of George Floyd Jr. at the hands of Minneapoli­s police officer Derek Chauvin, who eventually was convicted of murder and sentenced to 221⁄2 years in prison.

The Columbus branch of the NAACP issued a statement Thursday applauding the grand jury’s decision and saying it was “troubled to learn that some feel that the community should not celebrate such victory while mourning their loved ones. This community has buried many sons an daughters to endless violence, and there must be time to grieve and celebrate the lives lost.”

An official with the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, the local police union that represents Franklin County Sheriff ’s office deputies, Columbus police and other local law enforcemen­t, released a statement expressing support for the grand-jury process, but also for Meade.

“It is not lost on us that this announceme­nt comes only days before the one-year anniversar­y of the fatal shooting and planned protest Saturday at City Hall,” wrote Brian A. Steel, FOP vice president. “Justice is not an outcome. Justice is a process. We continue to stand by retired deputy Meade and await the outcome of the jury trial. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to all the families impacted by this incident.”

Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said in a statement Thursday that he has “reminded my staff that while everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the standards for being a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy must be even higher than that of our criminal justice system.

“As law enforcemen­t officers we must meet this higher standard because of the immense trust we ask the community to place in us. It’s vital to maintain that trust, which is why I’m asking members of my staff to review the facts from the independen­t investigat­ion when we’re able to fully access them and determine how this agency can best learn from this tragedy.”

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin reacted to The Dispatch’s breaking news tweet about the indictment by tweeting that the announceme­nt was “good to see... I hope it gives the Goodson family momentary relief as we approach the 1-year anniversar­y of Casey’s murder.”

Columbus City Council members announced on Nov. 4 that they would honor Goodson, a truck driver, by naming a publicly funded commercial driver’s license training program after him.

All fatal uses of force by law enforcemen­t in Franklin County are presented to a grand jury under a procedure establishe­d decades ago by the county prosecutor’s office.

Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack hired veteran Columbus lawyers H. Tim Merkle and Gary Shroyer as special prosecutor­s to present the case on Goodson’s death to the grand jury.

Tyack chose not to prosecute the case himself because his office serves as the legal counsel for the sheriff’s office, and will have to defend the county against civil litigation relating to Goodson’s death.

Hours after Meade’s indictment, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of Goodson’s estate by his family

in U.S. District Court in Columbus. The lawsuit names Meade and Franklin County as defendants.

Walton said during the news conference that the lawsuit was not filed as a result of the indictment, but because certain claims in the case have a oneyear statute of limitation­s.

According to the lawsuit, Goodson’s estate is seeking damages for wrongful death and the violation of Goodson’s civil rights, alleging the sheriff’s office did not properly train or supervise Meade.

The lawsuit alleges that Meade received significantly more training in firearms use than in any other area, including de-escalation, and that there was an apparent lack of review or supervisio­n of the training. The lawsuit said Meade’s records at the sheriff’s office showed he last received de-escalation training in 2014 and completed the training in under four minutes.

Goodson’s estate also call Meade a “religious zealot” in the lawsuit, saying he derived pleasure from being engaged in physical combat. “Jason Meade finds happiness in exercising force,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also alleges that Goodson’s grandmothe­r, who was inside the home at the time of the shooting, suffered a stroke later that same evening.

Within days of Goodson’s death, the FBI became involved and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced that it would oversee a joint investigat­ion into the case.

However, the federal investigat­ion has become a separate operation, presumably to pursue any potential civilright­s violations related to the shooting.

“The federal review remains open and ongoing,” Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoma­n for the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in an email Thursday.

Federal investigat­ors become involved after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office declined a request from Columbus police for his office’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigat­ion to probe the case.

Yost said he rejected the request because Columbus police waited until three days after the shooting to seek BCI help.

“We do tough investigat­ions all the time — but from the beginning,” Yost tweeted at the time. “This one belongs to CPD.”

In a lengthy written statement Thursday, Meade’s attorney provided the first detailed explanatio­n of the shooting, and what led up to it, from his client’s perspectiv­e.

Collins wrote that Meade was on his way back to the federal task-force headquarte­rs in his unmarked vehicle when he “observed a driver, later identified as Casey Goodson, with a black handgun with an extended magazine in his right hand hanging above his car’s steering wheel . ... As another car approached Mr. Goodson’s vehicle while it was stopped, he aimed the gun at the other driver, tracking that driver with his gun.”

After pursuing Goodson to the Estates Place residence, Collins wrote, Meade saw Goodson “approachin­g a side door inside an open gate” and “attempting to enter the house with a gun still in his right hand.”

Meade shouted repeatedly for Goodson to show his hands and drop the gun, Collins wrote, but Goodson “turned and looked in Jason’s direction while lifting his right arm back toward Jason, pointing the barrel of the gun in Jason’s direction.”

He and investigat­ors have said that a citizen heard Meade’s commands to Goodson being shouted, but didn’t see the shooting.

Goodson had a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun, and investigat­ors have confirmed that a gun was recovered at the scene, but have not been specific about the location.

Collins told The Dispatch in a text message Thursday, “When my client rolled (Goodson) over, (the gun) was found beneath him.”

Goodson’s family has said that he was carrying Subway sandwiches for family members to the home following a dentist’s appointmen­t and had his keys in the kitchen door when Meade shot him in the back multiple times.

An autopsy determined that Goodson was shot six times in his torso, with five of the bullets entering his back.

“It’s a lie,” Walton said on Thursday at the news conference when asked about claims that Goodson pointed a gun at Meade.

“He was targeted, pursued and shot from behind while walking into his own home,” Walton said. “On that day, Casey was simply trying to get home.”

Goodson’s mother said, “Casey was doing the right thing and was wrongfully executed.”

Although criminal charges against officers for on-duty shootings are rare, Meade is the third Franklin County law enforcemen­t officer to be charged with murder in the past three years for such incidents.

Former Columbus police officer Adam Coy was indicted in February in the Dec. 22, 2020, death of 47-year-old Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was shot as he emerged from a darkened garage at a Northwest Side home where he was an invited guest.

Former Columbus police Vice Officer Andrew Mitchell was indicted in April 2019 in the Aug. 23, 2018, death of 23year-old Donna Castleberr­y, who was shot three times in the backseat of Mitchell’s parked, unmarked police vehicle in Franklinto­n during what prosecutor­s described as an undercover prostituti­on encounter.

Mitchell also is under indictment in U.S. District Court in Columbus on FBI charges that he forced women to engage in sexual conduct with him in exchange for their freedom.

Coy and Mitchell are free on a $1 million bond each while awaiting trial.

Like Meade, both are represente­d by Collins.

Dispatch reporter Bethany Bruner contribute­d to this report. @johnfutty

“While we celebrate this win, we know this isn’t over. We know the ultimate end game is a conviction for the murder of Casey Goodson.”

Sean Walton The family’s attorney

 ?? ?? Meade
 ?? JOSHUA A. BICKEL/COLUMBUS DISPATCH ?? Tamala Payne, right, mother of Casey Goodson Jr., speaks during a news conference with the family attorney, Sean Walton, left, at the Huntington Empowermen­t Center on Thursday.
JOSHUA A. BICKEL/COLUMBUS DISPATCH Tamala Payne, right, mother of Casey Goodson Jr., speaks during a news conference with the family attorney, Sean Walton, left, at the Huntington Empowermen­t Center on Thursday.
 ?? PROVIDED PHOTO ?? Casey Goodson Jr.
PROVIDED PHOTO Casey Goodson Jr.

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