COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Charges have been filed in the shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr. by a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy nearly a year ago.
Jason Meade was indicted Thursday on two charges of murder and one count of reckless homicide. The charges were filed in Franklin County Court, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at 1 p.m. His lawyer has said he will plead not guilty and issued a statement detailing the account of Meade, who was granted disability retirement and left the sheriff’s office in July.
Because the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office represents the sheriff’s office in all legal proceedings, special prosecutors Gary S. Shroyer and H. Tim Merkle have been added to the case.
“They made a presentation to the Franklin County Grand Jury that resulted in today’s indictment,” Shroyer and Merkle said in a news release.
Later in the morning, Goodson’s family said they have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Meade and Franklin County.
The death of Goodson, 23, was the first in a series of fatal shootings by law enforcement officers against Black people in the Columbus area — also including Andre’ Hill and Ma’Khia Bryant — that sparked protests around the city.
The charges shed light on what happened on Dec. 4, 2020, when Meade, a white deputy, encountered Goodson, and come after months of statements from law enforcement, family members and attorneys that sometimes conflicted with one another.
The day of the shooting, U.S. Marshal Pete Tobin told NBC4 Meade was part of a fugitive task force in a north Columbus neighborhood. Tobin initially said Goodson waved a gun at Meade while driving past members of the task force. Meade followed Goodson back to a family residence in the 3900 block of Estates Place.
Meade’s attorney said that Goodson pointed a firearm at Meade and did not follow instructions to drop the weapon before the shooting, and also that at least one witness confirmed that account. Meade was not wearing a body camera at the time.
“My prediction is that it was a justified shooting,” Tobin told NBC4 just after the shooting. “However, this deputy will be investigated by the Columbus police homicide, Franklin County Internal Affairs, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, and the grand jury. So, he is going to run the gauntlet before he is completely cleared.”
On Dec. 11, Tobin issued a statement calling his comments premature. He also said that at the time of the shooting Meade was acting as a deputy, not a member of the task force — which drew a rebuke from Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.
“[Tobin] saying that Deputy Jason Meade was acting as a Franklin County deputy and not as a U.S. Marshal in the recent shooting incident, I was more than surprised,” Baldwin said. “If that was the correct decision eight days ago, I should have been informed, and at that point, I would have immediately contacted [the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation] to conduct the investigation.”
Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, and a family attorney said that Goodson was returning from the dentist with Subway sandwiches and was unlocking the door as he was shot, with his death witnessed by his 72-year-old grandmother and two toddlers who were near the door.
Meade’s attorney said a gun was recovered from Goodson. His mother said that Goodson, who had no criminal background, had a license to legally carry a concealed weapon and that he took the responsibility so seriously that he had wanted to become a CCW instructor.
The final autopsy report showed that Goodson was shot six times, five times in the back and once in the buttocks.
Who would oversee the investigation was initially muddled. The shooting occurred in Columbus city limits, with Columbus police responding. Three days later, Columbus police asked the BCI — which typically assists with shootings involving law enforcement — to take the lead, but it declined the request, saying it was contacted too late.
“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,” said Steve Irwin, a representative for state Attorney General Dave Yost. “[Columbus police] know that BCI is their first call when an incident occurs. 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.
“Three days later, after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witnesses have all dispersed, does not work.”
Instead, Columbus police continued the criminal investigation and the FBI launched a civil rights investigation, with the U.S. Attorney’s office being appointed as a special prosecutor due to a transition in Franklin County prosecutors.
Columbus police reported that it had completed a preliminary grand jury packet by Jan. 14.
Meade was with the sheriff’s office 17 years. He served with the Marines in Iraq and also was a pastor at Rosedale Freewill Baptist Church. According to his personnel file, he had been a member of SWAT since 2014, and he was one of several deputies who shot at an armed murder suspect in Pike County in 2018, killing the suspect. A grand jury cleared the deputies of wrongdoing. Meade was also once reprimanded for using his taser and failing to notify a supervisor.