Demanding authorities prosecute a sheriff’s deputy who shot dead laid-off truck driver and Gap employee Casey Goodson Jr., hundreds took to the streets of Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 11 and 12. Goodson was gunned down on his grandmother’s doorstep in the Northland neighborhood of the city Dec. 4.
“He did nothing wrong that day besides be a Black man who was a target of a racist cop,” Tamala Payne, Goodson’s mother, told protesters Dec. 11.
“Too many of us are dying,” she said. “We have to fight for justice. It’s us against them and they always win. But they’re not gonna win this one because this mother refuses to let it happen. We’ve all got to stand up!”
Goodson, 23, was returning home around noon from a dentist appointment after picking up Subway sandwiches for his grandmother and 5-year-old brother when he was killed by Franklin County sheriff’s SWAT deputy Jason Meade. “My grandson just got shot in the back when he come in the house,” Goodson’s grandmother reported to a 911 operator.
“Goodson had put his keys into his door before he was shot, and fell into the kitchen,” the family’s lawyer, Sean Walton, told CNN. He said Goodson had been carrying the sandwiches, a coronavirus mask and the keys.
Hours after the killing, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio Peter Tobin told reporters that the shooting was justified because Goodson had been “seen driving down the street waving a gun” by Meade and then refused Meade’s commands to drop the firearm. Tobin later retracted this, saying his remarks were “premature.” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther criticized Tobin’s remarks as “uninformed.”
So far, no witnesses to the killing have come forward. Meade was not wearing a body camera. He has been put on administrative leave.
Payne told ABC News that she was at work when her 5-year-old called her, crying and screaming, “Casey just got shot.”
Meade is part of a police fugitive task force that includes marshals and SWAT team members that had been searching the area. But that day Meade, by himself, confronted Goodson, who was not part of any investigation. The family says no gun was found near Goodson. Police say a gun was found at the scene. Ohio is an open-carry state and Goodson had a current license to carry a firearm.
“I want Jason Meade charged. I want his badge taken,” Payne said at a press conference the day before the protests. “And that is what Casey’s protests and Casey’s rallies are about.”
Attorney Walton said Meade also pointed a gun at Goodson’s uncle, who was carrying his 3-year-old daughter, and told him to “get out of the house before I shoot you, too.” Payne says she was called a bitch by a deputy when she arrived at the scene of the killing and officers refused to provide her with information about her son’s condition after he was shot.
The family has posted pictures of Goodson’s keys hanging in the door and the sandwiches laying on the floor where he dropped them as he died. At the protests, demonstrators symbolically held up keys and sandwiches.
“I want this process to be done in order and in peace and in unity. My son was a peaceful man,” Payne said at the Dec. 11 protest. “Everything done in Casey’s name will be done in that way or you are not welcome.”
The marches were organized in a disciplined way as Payne had urged, in contrast to some actions in recent months, called in the name of fighting cop brutality but actually organized to shame and abuse passersby, burn down local businesses and encourage looting.
A preliminary autopsy ruled Goodson’s death a homicide, with “multiple gunshots to the torso.” The official police autopsy report will take up to 14 weeks. The family has also ordered an independent report and says he was shot at least three times in the back.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Southern Ohio has opened a civil rights investigation. Evidence will be given to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office to present the findings to a grand jury.