COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A preliminary autopsy report of a Black man killed by an Ohio deputy last week showed clear signs of him being shot in the back multiple times, an attorney for the victim’s family said Thursday.
“Casey was not a suspect in any way shape or form,” said Sean Walton, one of the attorneys for Casey Goodson Jr.’s family. “Casey was just someone who was killed on his kitchen floor simply because he was a Black man and his skin was weaponized.”
Attorneys and relatives of Goodson, 23, said he was killed Friday by a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Jason Meade, as he walked through the front doorway of his grandmother’s Columbus house.
Preliminary autopsy results released Wednesday showed Goodson died from multiple gunshot wounds to his torso. Final results aren’t expected for at least three months. The family announced Thursday that they will conduct their own, independent autopsy.
Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz listed the cause of death as a homicide – a medical determination used in cases where someone has died at someone else’s hand, but not a legal finding. It doesn’t imply criminal intent.
Police have only said that the deputy “shot” Goodson without detailing how many shots were fired.
Two callers to 911 reported hearing multiple gunshots that day, according to copies of those calls released Wednesday to The Associated Press.
“Four shots fired from what sounded like an automatic weapon,” one caller said.
Meade, the deputy who shot Goodson, is a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He had been assigned to a U.S. Marshals Office fugitive task force that had just finished an unsuccessful search for a fugitive Friday afternoon.
U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin said that on the day of the shooting, Meade confronted the victim outside his home after Goodson, who was not the subject of the fugitive search, drove by and waved a gun at Meade.
One witness heard Meade command the victim to drop his gun, and when he didn’t, the deputy shot him, Tobin said. Goodson was taken to a hospital where he died.
Goodson had a concealed weapon permit and had hoped to become a firearms instructor, his mother and Walton said.
Police have said that a gun was recovered from the scene but have not provided further details.
“No one in the family saw Casey brandishing a weapon. Casey followed all safety protocols with his licensed weapons,” Chandra Brown, another attorney for the victim’s family said Thursday. “It would have been out of his character to brandish any weapon.”
Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, said her son had gone to the dentist that morning and then returned with sandwiches for himself, his 5-year-old brother and his grandmother. He was shot after he unlocked and opened the front door, Payne said.
She learned of Goodson’s death when her younger son called her.
“My 5-year-old called me screaming, ‘Mommy, mommy, Casey just got shot. The police just shot Casey, he’s laying on the floor, mommy, he’s dead, please hurry up, come get me, come get me, I’m scared,’” Payne said.
Payne said she, like all mothers of Black men, spend their children’s lives dreading a day like Friday.
“You see these other mothers and your heart breaks,” she said. “But you never imagine that it’s going to be you.”
The state declined a request by Columbus police to review the shooting after Republican Attorney General Dave Yost said the police department waited three days to ask for the state to take the case, after the crime scene had already been dismantled. The case was initially given to city police because the sheriff’s office does not oversee investigations of its own deputies in fatal shootings.
Advocates, Goodson’s relatives and lawyers for the family have called the fatal shooting another case of a Black man dying at the hand of police and believe the case is riddled with bias.
“From the moment of the shooting, Casey was treated as a subject. He was treated as a criminal,” said Sarah Gelsomino, one of the lawyers representing the victim’s family. “When the critical incident response team came to investigate, they brought with them their bias against Casey and in favor of Meade.”
Gelsomino said the legal team is happy the office of the U.S. attorney for Ohio, with help from the FBI’s Civil Rights Division, agreed Tuesday to step in but remains wary of how the investigation was handled in the first three “critical days.”
“The entire investigation is forever tainted,” Gelsomino added.
No video of the shooting has emerged. The sheriff’s office does not provide officers with body cameras, and the deputy’s SWAT vehicle did not have a dash-mounted camera.
After days of silence from Meade, an attorney put out a statement on his behalf Thursday, saying his client has given authorities full cooperation and is disputing claims made by Goodson’s family.
“At no time did Deputy Meade mistake a sandwich for a gun,” Mark Collins, the deputy’s lawyer said in an email to The Associated Press. “Mr. Goodson pointed his gun at Deputy Meade. There has been confirmation that our client gave verbal commands for Mr. Goodson to drop the gun.”
Collins added the victim’s family deserves a “thorough and transparent” investigation, but asserted there are a number of misstatements circulating about his client.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report. Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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