The family of a 23-year-old Black man shot dead by a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday have accused police of lying about the circumstances of the killing and demanded accountability for his death.
Casey Goodson Jr was shot as he entered his home carrying sandwiches from Subway, according to multiple accounts by family members. His mother said he was shot three times in the back, according to a Facebook post attributed to her. He died on his stoop with his keys in the door, a lawyer for the Goodson family said.
Police on Sunday identified the shooter as Franklin county sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the force. As a member of the US marshall’s service fugitive task force, Meade was in the area participating in an unrelated search for a suspect before he shot Goodson, police said.
Meade had been suspended from duty and was to be interviewed as part of an internal investigation of the killing, the sheriff’s office said Sunday.
But activists and family members called for an expanded investigation and expressed outrage that Peter Tobin, US marshal for the southern district of Ohio, said at a press conference Friday night that the killing was justified.
“He was seen driving down the street waving a gun, and that’s when the deputy, at some point after that, he confronted him and it went badly,” Tobin said.
That explanation was challenged as intolerably thin and the version of events was sharply disputed by members of Goodson’s family, their representatives and by activists.
“That narrative leaves out key details that raise cause for extreme concern,” a lawyer for the family, Sean Walton, said on Sunday. “Casey was coming home from a dentist appointment that day,” he said.
“They are lying!” wrote a woman identified as Goodson’s sister, Kaylee Harper, in a Facebook post.
“My brother literally walked across the yard, walked into the back fence to get to the side door, had his subway and mask in one hand keys in the other, UNLOCKED AND OPENED THE DOOR and stepped in the house before shooting him,” Harper wrote. “IF HE WAS SUCH A THREAT WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO SHOOT?! WHY DID TOU [sic] KILL A MAN WALKING INTO HIS OWN HOME?!”
Family members do not believe that Goodson was “waving a gun” around police officers, Walton told the Columbus Dispatch.
“He was very safe and respectful when it came to guns, he was a licensed gun holder,” Walton said. “That allegation does not line up with who Casey was, just because of the level of gun safety he tried to maintain.”
Goodson had no criminal record. No video of the killing had emerged and Meade was not wearing a body camera, according to police.
A friend of the Goodson family, Heather Johnson, 32, told the Columbus Dispatch at the weekend that Goodson was a family man.
“Casey was 23 years old, he never had any type of crimes,” she told the paper. “He was good, he worked at the Gap, he loved his family. He just enjoyed being a big brother and enjoyed being with his family, he loved them very much.”
In a statement released Sunday night, Columbus police chief Tom Quinlan said the department “is committed to conducting comprehensive investigations” and promised “transparency with our community regarding this investigation as appropriate”.