By Eric Lagatta, The Columbus Dispatch
The mother of Casey Goodson Jr. and her attorney say autopsy results show that Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jason Meade shot Goodson six times from behind with a high-powered rifle.
As Goodson, 23, walked through a kitchen door Dec. 4 at his residence on Estates Place on Columbus’ Northeast Side, Meade shot the Black man five times in the back and once in the right buttock, his mother, Tamala Payne, and Columbus attorney Sean Walton said.
Payne, through social media, and Walton are going public with the details of Goodson’s death that Walton said were revealed in a private discussion on Jan. 11 with him, his client and the Franklin County Coroner’s office.
‘We felt it was important to tell … the story of Casey’
Walton said Goodson’s family is grateful to the coroner’s office for privately discussing details of the autopsy. But now that it’s been more than two months since the deadly encounter, Walton said the family decided it was time to share what they knew.
“The family didn’t want to interfere with the investigation at all, but given the amount of time that’s passed, we felt it was important to tell more of the story of Casey,” Walton said in an interview with The Dispatch Wednesday.
Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz has previously said the results of an official autopsy would not be released until it is final, something that could not be expected for up to 24 weeks due to toxicology and other tests. She could not be reached for comment by The Dispatch on Wednesday or Thursday about the Goodson family’s statements.
Walton would not comment on whether the family has hired its own private medical examiner until the county’s autopsy results are officially made public, but Payne has indicated that a private medical examiner showed her autopsy photos of the six bullet wounds.
Walton and the family first discussed the new autopsy allegations Wednesday morning with The Breakfast Club, a three-member radio team whose show on 105.1-FM in New York City is carried in markets nationally.
“They were the first national outlet to really cover Casey’s story,” Walton said. “His mother was appreciative of them for that.”
Goodson shot by Franklin County SWAT deputy
In early December, the family and Walton initially claimed Goodson was shot in the back three times as he unlocked the side door of the residence he shared with his grandmother and others. However, Walton on Wednesday attributed that conclusion to a cursory assessment made by Goodson’s grandmother in the aftermath of the shooting, when she witnessed just three visible gunshot wounds.
Several facts and circumstances of the shooting remain disputed as the family and its attorneys present narratives far different from those presented by law enforcement officials.
The shooting occurred after Meade — a 17-year-veteran and member of the sheriff’s SWAT unit who was working earlier in the day in the area as part of a U.S. Marshals task force — confronted Goodson as Goodson got out of his vehicle outside his Northland residence.
Goodson’s family maintains he was carrying a bag of Subway sandwiches and had opened the door to the kitchen with keys when the shooting occurred. Goodson fell into the house, they said, his keys still in the door.
Investigation into Goodson’s death ongoing
Meade has been placed on paid administrative leave while a joint investigation into the shooting is conducted by Columbus police, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division under the oversight of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio.
Columbus NAACP President Nana Watson issued a statement Wednesday saying the organization is “highly troubled” by Payne and Walton’s claims that Goodson was shot six times and is calling for Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin to fire Meade.
Watson’s statement also expressed hope of seeing Meade indicted and arrested.
“The manner in which local law enforcement conducted themselves from the origin of this case should be a case study on what not to do. Many questions remain unanswered,” Watson said in the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of Casey Goodson.”
Without confirming Walton’s claims, Baldwin issued a statement Wednesday saying “criminal investigations over the years have shown that the physical location of gunshot wounds alone don’t always tell the entire story of what happened.”
Baldwin expressed sympathy for Goodson’s family while cautioning against drawing conclusions about the facts of Goodson’s death before the multiple investigatory agencies involve release their findings.
“I can’t imagine the pain that Casey Goodson’s mother is going through,” Baldwin said in the statement. “This was unquestionably a tragedy and I encourage everyone to join me in praying for those affected by it. Like everyone in our community, I want answers about Casey Goodson’s death as soon as possible.”
Last week, Columbus police said it sent a preliminary packet of information to Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack’s office on Jan. 14. Tyack said he is awaiting a final autopsy report before making any decisions on the case, including whether to ask for a special prosecutor.
Baldwin said in his statement that his office’s use-of-force policy “prohibits any deputy from using deadly force against anyone who doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the officer or to others. If the evidence shows that one of my employees failed to abide by that policy, I will hold that person accountable.”
This article originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch.