The killing of 23-year old Casey Goodson, Jr., a Columbus,Ohio man shot and killed last Friday by a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy, won’t be investigated by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Officials with the state Attorney General’s office said on Monday that they won’t accept a request by the Columbus police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to investigate Goodson’s death because the agencies shouldn’t have waited three days to ask the office to investigate.
“We recieved a referral to take a three-day-old office-involved shooting case,” says Steve Irwin with the Attorney General’s Office. “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.”
Irwin says it is rare that BCI would turn down a case, but rarer still that local authorities would wait three days before involving the Bureau.
“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,” Irwin says. “Three days after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witnesses have all dispersed does not work.”
On Tuesday morning, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, whose office oversees the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, tweeted out a further explanation of why his office won’t be handling the investigation.
We were invited in *three days* after the fact—after CPD processed & cleared the scene, after the first round of witnesses were interviewed, after the canvass.
We do these tough investigations all the time—but from the beginning. This one belongs to CPD. https://t.co/l5tpgcf5ov
— Dave Yost (@Yost4Ohio) December 8, 2020
Why didn’t Columbus PD and the Franklin County Sheriff request the BCI investigate the shooting at the time? After all, Goodson wasn’t the subject of the task force’s warrant, had no criminal record, and multiple family members say he was holding a Subway sandwich bag in one hand and had his house keys in the other when he was shot by a Franklin County deputy.
Police, meanwhile, say that Goodson, who was licensed to carry a concealed firearm, “waved a gun” at deputies as he drove by them, and then refused to drop his gun when a deputy followed him and ordered him to drop his weapon as Goodson got out of his car after he parked it in the driveway of his grandmother’s home where he lived.
This isn’t something that should have been handled internally, and if I were Yost I’d be angry that his office appears to have been used as a cover-your-rear afterthought on the part of those agencies.
We’ve also learned that the sheriff’s deputy who shot Goodson was not wearing a body camera when he confronted the 23-year old as Goodson was entering his family’s home. Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin told reporters on Monday that the county had been considering purchasing cameras for several years, and had recently committed to equipping deputies with body cameras in 2021.
The police chief in Columbus says that his department is capable of conducting a thorough investigation, but that begs the question of why Chief Thomas Quinlan asked for BCI to get involved three days after the shooting took place and days after the internal investigation was launched.
“We understand that issues of perception can impact how the public views the results of a case such as this,” he said in a written statement. “To remove any doubt among the public about the independence of this investigation,” Quinlan said he believed it was appropriate to refer the case to state investigators.
With that option closed, Columbus police will likely have to proceed with their investigation because another law enforcement agency might have the same issues with coming in after the fact.
So, there won’t be any independent investigation and there’s no body camera footage to be released. I hope Quinlan understands why the public may very well have real doubts about what happened last Friday when Goodson was shot and killed.
The handling of the investigation into Goodson’s death has been anything but confidence-inspiring to date. It’s going to be even more important for the Columbus PD to be open and transparent in their investigation, because at the moment there’s plenty of skepticism about the official accounts of what happened in the minutes and moments before Goodson was shot and killed.