The Ohio sheriff’s deputy who shot Casey Goodson Jr. in the back five times pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of murder and reckless homicide nearly one year after the killing of Goodson on Dec. 4, 2020.
A magistrate set bond for defendant Jason Meade at $250,000, which Meade's attorney said he expected Meade to post Friday. The bond angered a lawyer representing Goodson's family, who noted a typical bond for a murder charge is $1 million.
“What is a Black life worth in this justice system in America?” said attorney Sean Walton, who added: “We saw and heard the prosecutors in the room today say that there's nothing that Casey did whatsoever that led to his death.”
The shooting of the 23-year-old Goodson, who was Black, by Meade, a longtime deputy — now retired — who is white, led to protests in Columbus and many lingering questions, in part because the killing was not recorded on body or dash camera footage.
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.
Collins had argued for a reasonable bond, saying Meade has strong ties to the community with no motive for leaving town, has been cooperative over the past year, is a church minister, does not own a passport, and has no weapons at home after they were removed following his indictment.
“This is not a whodunnit,” Collins said. “This is whether or not our client used reasonable force based on the totality of the situation, the circumstances surrounding it, his training in the protocols, and whether or not he subjectively believed his life was in danger.”
Prosecutors laid out a scenario in which Goodson, returning from a dental appointment with a bag of sandwiches for family members, was shot as he entered his grandmother's house with his keys already in the door. He was shot five times in the back and once in the buttocks, said Franklin County special prosecutor Tim Merkle.
“Investigators found no evidence other than Mr. Meade’s self-serving, uncorroborated statement to show that Casey presented a threat to Mr. Meade,” Merkle said Friday. “Rather, the evidence collected revealed that Casey was doing nothing other than entering his residence when Mr. Meade shot him six times.”
The shooting happened as Meade, a 17-year member of the sheriff's office, was finishing an unsuccessful search for a fugitive as part of his work for a U.S. Marshals Service task force. Goodson was not the subject of the fugitive search and the Marshals have said Meade wasn't performing a mission for them at the time of the shooting.
Meade followed Goodson first in his car and then on foot after seeing Goodson in his car point a gun at another driver and then at Meade, and later “waving the firearm erratically,” according to an account provided by Collins.
Goodson's family has also filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against Meade and the sheriff's office. The complaint claims Meade received hundreds of hours on firearms and SWAT training but little on violence deescalation techniques, despite subpar performances as a deputy, including being placed on “no inmate contact status” for nearly four years. The lawsuit did not provide details of the reasons for that placement. A Franklin County spokesperson has declined comment.
Although the shooting did not involve Columbus police, it came at a time of heightened tension over previous shootings of Black people by officers in Ohio’s capital, a situation made worse less than three weeks later when a white Columbus police officer shot and killed 47-year-old Andre Hill as he emerged from a garage holding a cellphone.
Meade, who had been on administrative leave since the shooting, retired July 2 on disability.
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