COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A Franklin County Sheriff's Office deputy was in Columbus, Ohio, on December 4 looking for violent offenders. Instead, he fatally shot Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, who had no criminal background, according to a family attorney, and was not the target of any investigation.
Goodson's mother says he was shot as he tried entering his home after returning from the dentist and Subway, a quick stop he made to get sandwiches for his 5-year-old brother and 72-year-old grandmother. The two found Goodson lying on the ground, family attorney Sean Walton told CNN.
"My grandson just got shot in the back when he come in the house," Goodson's grandmother told a 911 operator.
"He went to the dentist or somewhere and came home," she later said. "All I know is there's a bunch of gunfire. He's not a bad kid. He doesn't have a police record. He works. I don't know what happened."
Goodson had put his keys into his door before he was shot and fell into the kitchen, Walton said. Hours after the shooting, his keys remained hanging on the door, the attorney added, "a reminder to his family of how close he was to safety," the attorney said.
The shooting is the latest in a series in recent years involving young Black men and teens in a city that has grappled with racial inequalities for generations. Over the summer, Columbus also saw demonstrations after George Floyd's death, during which protesters clashed with police, who fired rubber bullets and pepper spray. Demonstrations in response to Goodson's death are scheduled to take place over the weekend.
The Columbus Division of Police is handling the investigation into the shooting and the US Attorney's Office in Southern Ohio has opened a civil rights investigation. Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan on Thursday vowed for an "independent, meticulous, unbiased investigation with a singular focus: getting to the truth of what happened to Casey Goodson and why."
But more than a week after the shooting, many questions remain. Here's what we know so far.
The moments before the shooting
Goodson was an Ohio concealed carry permit holder and was legally armed at the time of the shooting, police said. He was not alleged to have committed any crimes, Walton said. A review of court records did not show more than minor traffic-related offenses.
Jason Meade, the sheriff's deputy who shot Goodson, 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, police said.
Authorities have provided vague details about the moments prior to the shooting, but it's still unclear what led to the interaction between the two and what exactly that interaction looked like.
During the task force operation in Columbus, Meade reported seeing a man with a gun and was investigating the situation when reportedly there was a verbal exchange prior to the shooting, Columbus police previously said.
An attorney for Meade says Goodson pointed a gun at the deputy prior to the shooting, adding "there has been confirmation that our client gave verbal commands for Mr. Goodson to drop the gun."
Police have said no other officers witnessed the shooting, there have been no civilian eyewitnesses identified and there is no body camera footage because Franklin County Sheriff's task force officers aren't issued body cameras. Meade's attorney, Mark Collins, also noted no eyewitnesses have been identified.
Attorneys for Goodson's family said in their own news release "neither the City of Columbus nor any other investigatory agency has alleged that Casey Goodson pointed a gun before Meade pulled the trigger."
"With Meade's statement issued nearly one full week after he killed Casey, it is critical to note that this is a classic defense often claimed by police after they shoot and kill someone," they said. "It is also critical to remember that often the evidence does not support these claims."
Peter Tobin, US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said last Friday the fugitive task force was wrapping up an unrelated investigation when a deputy saw a man "driving down the street waving a gun." The man was confronted by the deputy and "allegedly started to pull a gun and the officer fired," Tobin previously told reporters. He added the shooting appeared justified but would be investigated.
There were concerns of a predetermined outcome
Goddson's family attorneys criticized Columbus authorities Thursday, saying they proceeded "through their investigation" with the assumption in mind that Goodson's shooting was justified.
"Casey was treated as a criminal. Not only Casey but his family were treated as suspects. They were treated as criminals," family attorney Sarah Gelsomino said.
The responding officers, she added, "brought with them their bias against Casey, and in favor of Meade."
She added the way that the scene "was processed that day is essential."
In a series of tweets Friday, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in the week since the shooting, he has heard "over and over that statements made last Friday indicated the outcome of the investigation was predetermined."
"That is not the case," Ginther wrote. "US Marshal Pete Tobin said it appeared the shooting was justified. He was wrong to make a statement, and his words were inappropriate, uninformed and damaged the public's trust in the investigation."
The mayor added local and federal authorities are "committed to following the evidence, getting to the truth and providing answers to Mr. Goodson's family and the community."
What the autopsy found
The Franklin County Coroner's Office said this week Goodson's manner of death was a homicide.
An autopsy that was performed Tuesday found the preliminary cause of death to be "multiple gunshot wounds to the torso."
The coroner's office does not specify where on the torso the wounds are located. A full report will be released in 12 to 14 weeks, the office said, adding it is still "awaiting medical records as well as the toxicology report."
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation did not accept case
On Monday, Columbus Police 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 said it would not be able to accept the case.
"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 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 Monday statement. "Three days later after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witness(es) have all dispersed does not work."
But Columbus police said the chief's interest in having the BCI involved was "based solely on reassuring the public of maximum independence in the investigation of this tragedy."
Here's what we know about the Casey Goodson Jr. fatal police shooting
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