Murder Charges Filed Against Cop Who Shot Gun Owner In The Back

AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins

It’s been almost a year since Casey Goodson, Jr. was shot and killed by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy, and the case may have faded from our memories, but here’s a quick refresher. Goodson, a legal gun owner with a valid concealed carry license, was shot six times (five in the back, and one shot to the buttocks) by Deputy Jason Meade, who was serving as a member of a U.S. Marshal’s Task Force at the time.

Goodson wasn’t the person the task force was looking for, but according to officers the 23-year old “waved” a handgun as he slowly drove by some of the assembled officers, which prompted Meade to follow Goodson to his home. Goodson was fatally shot as he was trying to enter the home while holding a bag with sandwiches from Subway, though he apparently did have his firearm on him at the time.

Jason Meade was placed on suspension immediately following the shooting, and retired earlier this year, but that wasn’t the end of the story. After nearly twelve months of investigating, Meade was indicted in Franklin County on Thursday and now faces two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide.

Goodson was not the subject of the fugitive search. U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin initially said Meade, who has since retired, confronted Goodson after Goodson drove by and waved a gun at the deputy, but he later withdrew those comments, saying they’d been based on “insufficient information.”

Tobin also said Meade was “not performing a mission” for the marshals at the time of the shooting.

… A judge scheduled an initial hearing Friday for Meade. A message was left seeking comment from Meade’s attorney, who has previously said the coroner’s report has no bearing on what actually happened that day. The case remains under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office with help from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The indictment itself doesn’t contain any information about what led the grand jury to charge Meade with murder, so I will be very curious to hear from prosecutors about the evidence in the case. Unlike a lot of high-profile shootings that have been in the headlines recently, there’s no video evidence that captures the moment shots were fired. Prosecutors do have forensic evidence as well as interviews with those on scene at the time, but I don’t think this case is as cut-and-dried as, say, the Rittenhouse case appeared to be.

Meade was a sheriff’s deputy in Franklin County for 17 years. The father of two did a tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 as a Marine reservist, and has served as pastor of a small Baptist Church in nearby Madison County since 2014. His career in law enforcement hasn’t been marred by any previous scandals, though he did receive a reprimand in 2019 for using his Taser on a suspect and not reporting it to supervisors.

Casey Goodson, meanwhile, has been described by his friends and family as a “big kid” with a big heart. He had obtained his Commercial Drivers License and had been working as a truck driver, but according to his girlfriend he had dreams of becoming a firearms instructor.

He wanted to purchase land outside of Columbus where he could start his own range and teach others about gun safety.

“He would always tell me, ‘I love being on the road, but I hate being alone,’” Carter said of the conversations the two would have when Goodson would drive cross-country for a trucking company, circumstances that led him to discuss potential careers that would enable him to remain closer to family year-round.

I don’t know exactly what happened on December 4th of last year, but it strikes me as extraordinarily odd behavior for a concealed carry holder who had dreams of becoming a firearms instructor to wave a gun at cops as he slowly drove by. And given that the U.S. Marshal who initially described that scenario withdrew his comments because he had “insufficient information” at the time, I wonder how many officers besides Meade actually claimed to have seen Goodson display a firearm?

Of course, it would also be extraordinarily odd for an officer to repeatedly fire neutralize a threat if the individual wasn’t actually posing an immediate threat to their own life or the lives of others. And the new Franklin County prosecutor raised eyebrows and drew a heated response from local law enforcement when he declared back in January that “we need to get the message out that if you do succumb to the temptation to shoot, then we will end up penalizing you, maybe even sending you to prison.”

In an interview published Jan. 11 in The Dispatch, [Gary] Tyack said: “For years and years, some police have felt they had immunity as long as they told a story about how they shot someone in self-defense…  I’m sorry, we can’t let officers keep getting away with that.”

The head of the local Fraternal Order of Police was asked about Tyack’s comments at a news conference later that day.

“I think it’s dangerous for the public if we’re making those kind of statements and we’re not following the rule of law,” said Keith Ferrell, president of FOP Capital City Lodge No. 9. “Our position is, the law is the law and the facts are the facts.”

This is a complex case made even more complicated by the politics swirling around it, and I have no idea what will happen when this case goes to trial. What I’m hoping for is that we at least will get to learn all of the facts and evidence surrounding Goodson’s death so that a jury can make an informed judgement as to Jason Meade’s guilt or innocence. What I’m afraid of is that for many members of the public the facts that will emerge are going to be less important than the narrative set by those who’ve already labeled Meade a murderer or declared his shooting of Goodson to be justified.