Prosecutor Poisoning Well of Public Opinion in Casey Goodson Case?

Columbus, Ohio firearms instructor, gun store owner, 2A podcast host, and law enforcement officer Eric Delbert is my guest on today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, and the big topic is the shooting death of Casey Goodson, Jr. last December and the murder charges filed last week against now-retired Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade.

Delbert says he’s not necessarily opposed to a trial for former Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade in the death of concealed carry holder Casey Goodson, Jr., but he believes that statements by the prosecutor and other public officials are poisoning the well of public opinion against Meade before the public has ever had the chance to hear all the evidence. And as much as I sympathize with Goodson’s family and friends, I have to say it’s hard to disagree.

Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack, who took office in January after winning election as a Democrat (and replacing the incumbent Republican), ignited a controversy shortly after he began his tenure by declaring that when it comes to officer-involved shootings, “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.”

Tyack staked out a position that doesn’t allow for any justified shooting by a police officer, and while he backed off his stance he maintains that there are far more officer-involved shootings that are truly necessary. The latter position is a far more reasonable one, but you can’t help but think that Tyack only slightly modified his views to mollify the critics who were emerging just days after he took office. And I think it’s reasonable to conclude he didn’t want to start off with a controversy so he made it disappear as best he could.

The other evidence that Delbert offers about public officials poisoning the well of public opinion is the action taken last month by the Columbus City Council to honor Casey Goodson, Jr. with an employment program named in his honor.

Prior to his death, Goodson, who worked as a commercial truck driver, told family members he dreamed of one day owning his own fleet.

The Pathways to Purpose: Casey Goodson Jr. CDL Program was created to provide opportunities to individuals “regardless of their background,” according to Columbus City Councilmember Shayla Favor.

Currently, Ohio is facing a shortage of commercial truck drivers. The number of drivers trained to receive their commercial driver’s license fell by 40% in 2020, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Columbus has experienced that shortage firsthand with its COTA busses, school busses, utility trucks and more.

According to Favor, the goal of this newly announced program is to seek out hard working people and give them an avenue to overcome barriers and succeed.

The city will dedicate $200,000 in honor of that goal, according to a release. Part of that funding will go directly toward training and tuition costs.

The program will accommodate those seeking to become CDL drivers with either the City of Columbus or private employers within central Ohio.

“Our residents deserve the opportunity to have access to quality employment training programs to create stability for them and their families,” said Favor, adding, “Mr. Goodson’s life mattered and he had an incredibly bright future ahead of him as a truck driver.”

Just as an aside, I can’t help but note that according to Goodson’s girlfriend, he’d actually gotten tired of being a truck driver and was thinking about becoming a firearms instructor instead. Can you imagine the Columbus City Council devoting $200,000 to training and instructing individuals to become firearm instructors “regardless of background”?

Yeah, me neither. Though given the circumstances of Goodson’s death, I think it would be appropriate. Because according to the prosecutor, Jason Meade was not only careless and reckless with his service weapon, he used it murder a man who posed no threat to him.

As Jason Meade’s attorney explains it, however, it was Goodson himself who was being unsafe with a firearm.

Meade’s lawyer, Mark Collins, says the deputy fired when Goodson pointed a gun at him. Goodson’s family has never denied that Goodson might have been carrying a gun, but has noted he also had a license to carry a firearm.

Prosecutors say a gun was found in the kitchen after the shooting. Collins said Friday the gun was under Goodson’s body, and Meade moved it as he tried to revive Goodson.

What’s the truth? I have no idea. But these are two very different narratives, and they can’t both be accurate.

Casey Goodson, Jr. isn’t on trial here, but I do see Delbert’s point that the City Council honoring Goodson in any way before Meade’s trial takes place is intentionally designed to portray the young man as the victim, which means that Meade is also being portrayed as the man who unjustly murdered him. If Jason Meade is convicted, I’d have no problem whatsoever with Goodson being recognized by the city. But I also think the city and its elected officials have a duty and a responsibility to wait until Meade has had his day in court.

I may have my own opinion about this case, but it’s based more on gut instinct than any real evidence, which has been scant throughout the investigation. I have absolutely no idea what a jury will do with the evidence, but I share Delbert’s concern that the city leaders are making this case seem not just like a slam dunk for the prosecution, but a foregone conclusion when it’s no such thing. We saw how that played out when Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted, and we’re likely to see an even more incendiary result if Meade ends up getting acquitted by a jury.

And yeah, that would probably happen even if the city council members stayed mum until a verdict was announced. But they’re only adding fuel to the fire, which is completely irresponsible from people elected to positions of real responsibility for the city. Justice needs to be done in this trial, but poisoning the well of public opinion makes it harder for that to happen.